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Ipswich: Work on New Academy finally gets under way after years of delay

PUBLISHED: 11:33 30 June 2014 | UPDATED: 11:33 30 June 2014

Staff, students and visitors watch MP Ben Gummer cutting the first turf at Suffolk New Academy,

Staff, students and visitors watch MP Ben Gummer cutting the first turf at Suffolk New Academy,

Archant

Work to rebuild one of the most dilapidated high schools in Ipswich has finally started – four years after the original proposals were shelved in austerity cuts.

Chantry High School was due to be rebuilt under the previous government’s Building Schools for the Future programme which was scrapped by the incoming coalition in 2010 because of a lack of funds.

Since then Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, school officials, and councillors have been fighting to get the rebuild plans back on track – the current 50-year-old building is in a poor condition.

Now renamed Suffolk New Academy, the school’s rebuild was confirmed by the Department for Education last year, and the design was approved by planners in early 2014.

Work has now started on the rebuilding project, which should be completed in time for the start of the 2015/16 academic year. It is one of 261 schools across the country that are being rebuild in a £2.4billion national programme.

Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove said: “I am delighted that construction has started at Suffolk New Academy as part of this Government’s Priority School Building Programme.”

Mr Gummer is also Mr Gove’s Parliamentary Private Secretary and was at the school to mark the start of work on the site.

He said: “This is something I have been pressing for ever since I was first elected and the previous scheme was scrapped. It has been a long campaign – and until you actually see work starting you can’t quite believe it will all happen. So from that point of view this is very good news.”

Suffolk New Academy principal Andrew Fell added: “We are very excited about the start of our building project, it is a great moment for everyone concerned with the Academy and for the local community.

“Everyone has been working extremely hard to ensure all plans are in place and we are confident that the building will be completed and ready to open in September 2015.”

Contractors from Kier have started on site, and expect to complete the rebuild by summer 2015. The project includes a new-build school for 900 pupils, providing modern facilities that will benefit the local community for many years to come.

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