School looks to bright future

AFTER years of financial struggle, Westbourne Sports College is today looking forward to a brighter future.The once struggling Ipswich high school is enjoying a renaissance thanks to a recovery plan which has plugged a hole in the balance sheet and overseen an improvement of facilities thanks to fresh investment.

AFTER years of financial struggle, Westbourne Sports College is today looking forward to a brighter future.

The once struggling Ipswich high school is enjoying a renaissance thanks to a recovery plan which has plugged a hole in the balance sheet and overseen an improvement of facilities thanks to fresh investment.

In 2003, The Evening Star reported on a major cash crisis which was blamed on rising national insurance payments, bigger pension contributions and axed government funding.

A £600,000 deficit meant the school's every move was restricted by financial handcuffs.

Since then, determined headteacher Chris Edwards and his team have administered a change of fortunes.

The 1,200-pupil school, in Marlow Road, which last year attained specialist sports status, has recently unveiled a new PE wing and state-of-the-art fitness equipment.

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Mr Edwards joined the school seven years ago when Westbourne was branded by inspectors as having “serious weaknesses”.

Today, he said: “I feel tremendously proud of what we have achieved.

“In my time as head, I have seen the school transform to where we are now.

“I think we've been the fastest improving school in Suffolk over the last six years and our sports status gives us another impetus.”

Westbourne raised £65,000 towards sports status, added £250,000 from its own budget and received a government grant of £100,000.

A PE wing, created following a conversion of old music classrooms, has been filled with equipment which is the envy of other schools in the town.

A cutting edge gym and specialist electronic dance mats, already hugely popular with students, have given the school a new identity.

Importantly, the facilities will be open to the community.

Mr Edwards said: “We have done this to raise achievement across the whole school because not all children are sporting geniuses or want to exercise all the time.

“We had a strong reputation for sport and the children were keen on the idea of specialist status.

“Sport can be a help in learning in other subjects. It also develops the qualities of being part of a team and playing different roles in that team. Sport is a way of sorting out arguments.

“It was also an important choice because this side of town doesn't have much in terms of sports facilities.”

Students are also celebrating the opening of a new learning resource centre and the arrival of 15 lap top computers which can be used anywhere in the school thanks to the high-tech wi-fi internet network.

A refurbished quad area is also nearing completion.

Mr Edwards said: “The idea is that our students become more independent.

“And children respond really well to being given quality.”

What do you make of Westbourne's revival? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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