COMMUNITY leaders today hailed the start of work on Felixstowe Academy’s new £20million building as a big day for the town.

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Green Academy

Bosses at Felixstowe Academy today stressed the new building will be fit for the 21st century – and doing its part for the environment.

Rather than being heated in the normal way, the facility will include solar panels and biomas boilers, which burn woodchips or wood pellets, rather than coal or oil.

In addition to the heating side of the project, £1million is being supplied to be used on ICT services at the academy, which is sponsored by the Academies Enterprise Trust.

This money will be spent, not only on new computer rooms, but also on personal computing devices for students, such as iPads.

Some £300,000 of the funding has already been brought forward and is being trialled with sixth form pupils.

And headteacher Andrew Salter revealed every pupil at the school could have their own device which can be used for handing in homework and assignments.

It was also revealed that the project will lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs, as the firm behind it said between 20-25 per cent of the workforce would be made up of local people.

The new building in Maidstone Road will include specialist facilities for ICT, science, gymnastics and dance and is expected to be finished in February 2014, with the first set of students due to start in April that year.

A turf cutting ceremony yesterday signalled the start of work on the facility, which will also include social spaces for pupils and a multi-use games area.

Executive principal, Stephen Chamberlain, said: “I think the town has waited a long time to see its young people have the kind of facilities you see in London and other parts of the country.

“To be able to secure a brand new building when money is tight and to have such support is fantastic.”

Diggers are now on the site and archaeological work is currently taking place with evidence of Bronze Age field systems already being discovered. The discoveries will later be archived.

It is expected construction will start in earnest in about two weeks when the archaeological work is completed.

Mike Deacon, Felixstowe Mayor, said: “It has been a long time coming but it’s a very historic occasion for the town.

“It’s really good that this school can develop into a centre of excellence for our young people.”

Suffolk Coastal MP, Therese Coffey, said although many of the older children won’t get to use the new building, it was lovely to see they were still interested in it and attended the ceremony. She added: “It was a great day.”

The lead-up to the start of construction on the new build, in the grounds of the current Maidstone campus, has been hampered by problems including a land-ownership issue, which postponed work.

But the school leadership have put the past problems behind them and are looking towards a new era of education in Felixstowe, with the new building expected to house up to 1,800 pupils.

Andrew Salter, headteacher, said: “It has been a long time coming but we are all really excited that we can actually see the build starting.”

More than 2,500 people will be involved in the construction of the new academy, which is being undertaken by Balfour Beatty.

Paul Whieldon, project manager, said: “We look to encourage about 20-25 per cent of the local workforce in that – we think that is very important.”

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