A £30m state of the art school has opened on the Reggie Smith memorial ground in Belle Vale, Liverpool as one of the last schools to secure funding for Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme (BSF). The new school has replaced Gateacre Secondary School and Hope Special School, which were situated only a mile from the new site.
Liverpool City Council selected Balfour Beatty Construction as one of its three Frameworks – along with Norwest Holst and AMEC – to help deliver its £175m Wave 2 BSF programme. The objective of the Liverpool BSF scheme is to provide education facilities capable of delivering a 21st century curriculum. This includes ICT networks enabling ‘anywhere anytime’ learning in addition to providing learning resources for the whole community.
The oversubscribed new school has been designed by BDP and is bold and geometric in shape. At the heart of the new premises is a giant atrium that utilises natural light. The school grounds contain a multipurpose indoor sports facility including fitness suite, outdoor hard courts for tennis and netball, rugby, cricket and athletics, and outdoor recreation for social use and learning. The main building contains a theatre/music complex, restaurant, internet cafe, a learning resource centre and learning houses. The bistro-style restaurant, The Fig Tree Cafe, will be partly ran by students and will be open to pupils and teachers before and after school until 6pm as well as to the community during public events.
An environmentally-friendly biomass boiler has been installed and the project utilised off-site fabrication from Modular Systems +. Aecom was the consultant on the contract. Works began on site in 2009 and the school is now complete.
The previous Gateacre Community Comprehensive School opened in 1957 and the main block was added in 1961. The school is a Specialist School for the Arts and Humanities, and has 1600 students including a Sixth Form of two hundred and fifty.
The school has performed at prestigious and high profile events at venues including: The Philharmonic Hall, St George’s Hall, The Playhouse, The Town Hall, The Cavern, LIPA, The Picket and The Lomax. The performing arts department has also been featured in the local press, radio and television – the school’s choir even featured in the Christmas edition of Channel Four’s ‘Hollyoaks’.
In November 1995 the school’s commitment to encouraging the professional development of all staff was recognised by an ‘Investors in People’ Award, a recognition that has since been endorsed in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006.