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Felixstowe: School day may be staggered at new academy

PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 October 2011

Hilary Gates and Allan Bailey, left, and Richard Bowman, right, go through the plans for the new academy in Felixstowe.

Hilary Gates and Allan Bailey, left, and Richard Bowman, right, go through the plans for the new academy in Felixstowe.

LESSONS will be staggered over a longer school day to help provide a better teaching environment at a new £20 million academy, it was revealed today.

"Changing the structure of the timetable means there is potential to improve the environment and the experience for everybody."

Phil Houghton, project leader

Education chiefs denied the new school at Felixstowe would be too small, but said it could be cramped inside at certain times – such as when hundreds of students spill out into corridors at the end of classes.

Project leader Philip Houghton, of Suffolk County Council, said the new academy building would definitely be able to accommodate 1,800 students at one time.

“If everyone is coming out of the classrooms at the same time at the end of a lesson it would be achievable – building regulations would be met – but it may be there is benefit to staff, students and the curriculum if the timetable is different,” he said.

“Changing the structure of the timetable means there is potential to improve the environment and the experience for everybody.”

Cutbacks in the budget – it had been hoped to have £32m to spend on the new building until the recession struck – has caused the problems, restricting the size of the building, putting space at a premium.

A staggered day would mean students – and teachers – going to school in shifts, meaning some pupils may not start lessons until 10am and stay at school until 5pm.

Parents were told about the situation at an exhibition to unveil the plans for the new academy. Many expressed concerns about changes to family life – with parents gearing their work day to current school times.

Felixstowe Academy opened last month following the merger of Deben and Orwell high schools, and is currently being run on two sites, the old schools’ campuses.

The new building will be built on the Maidstone Road campus, with a new entrance off High Road.

Academies Enterprise Trust officials have previously said while the reduced budget meant it would not be an iconic building, the new academy would be “effective and efficient”, fit for purpose, and perfectly suitable for its vision of providing students with “a world class environment, with the best facilities, the best teaching and the most up to date resources available to them”.

Architect Jude Harris, of London-based Jestico and Whiles, said the whole of the campus would be retained with the old Orwell High demolished and turned into playing fields, and the community education centre staying.

The new building would be three-storey with a sports hall at one end and a learning resource centre at the other, with classrooms in two wings.

“It is a high quality education environment and will be a fantastic beacon for learning in Felixstowe and a real signal of the investment in education in this town,” he said.


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