Schools are now built for the future as three-year improvement project comes to an end

Official opening of Fenland base of the County School Wisbech'left to right Janet Heathcote (Executive Head) and Adrian Loades (Executive Director Children, Families and Adults)
Official opening of Fenland base of the County School Wisbech'left to right Janet Heathcote (Executive Head) and Adrian Loades (Executive Director Children, Families and Adults)

The sixth and final Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project in Fenland – the Fenland Learning Base of the County School – was officially opened last week.

This marks the end of the BSF programme in Fenland which has seen all four secondary schools, Meadowgate School and the County School rebuilt or refurbished over the last three years.

£91 million has been spent upgrading and improving the buildings and facilities at these schools and a further £9m has been spent on new IT infrastructure and equipment. As a result of this investment, the secondary school estate in Fenland is now among the most up-to-date in the country.

David Harty, Cabinet Member for Education and Learning, who has overseen the programme from the beginning, said: “This has been a very significant project for Cambridgeshire County Council. The completed schools are a spectacular improvement on what went before and I am delighted with what has been achieved. My hope now is that these excellent new facilities will help future generations of learners in Fenland to fulfil their potential, as well as being a real asset for the wider community.”

Work started on Cambridgeshire’s bid to enter the national BSF programme in 2006. Contracts for the Fenland BSF projects were signed in 2010 shortly before the national BSF programme was cancelled. Under the Fenland programme three schools – Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech, Neale-Wade Academy in March and Meadowgate School in Wisbech – have been substantially re-built.

Cromwell Community College in Chatteris and Sir Harry Smith Community College in Whittlesey have had substantial new teaching and community facilities added whilst their existing accommodation has been re-modelled and modernised. The Fenland Learning Base of the County School has been re-located to a new, purpose-built facility in Wisbech.

Alan Kippax, BSF Programme Director at Cambridgeshire County Council said: “It has been a long journey and I am very pleased to see the last of the projects completed and occupied. I am grateful to everyone involved for working together so well to deliver what in some cases have been intrusive and complex building works in the middle of these schools.”

The Department for Education committed most of the capital money for the programme. Cambridgeshire County Council contributed £3m while Fenland District Council contributed £0.4m towards enhancing the theatre space at Thomas Clarkson Academy for community use. As part of the BSF works at Cromwell Community College in Chatteris, Fenland District and Chatteris Town Council funded a new £1.1m community Leisure Suite which opened in October 2012.

The Fenland BSF Programme has been delivered by Cambridgeshire County Council in a joint venture partnership with a private sector partner, Cambridgeshire Learning & Community Partnerships Ltd (CLCP). CLCP used a consortium of contractors, including Kier Construction and Galliford Try, to build individual schools.