These new facilities will enable us to deliver on the various advancements in our curriculum that we have put in place in recent years. This has been in response to student and parent requests and also simply part of what good schools do. In particular, we continue to expand our Juilliard performing arts programmes across the school, we have added drama as a full discrete subject in secondary and we are continuing with our offer of triple sciences and additional mathematics at GCSE and also Film at IB Diploma Programme level. All of this results in the need for more specialist facilities and more flexible general classroom spaces.
This is a particular challenge on a site where zoning regulations change piecemeal and at unpredictable times and place restrictions on us adding more built-up areas. Fortunately, permission was granted in June to go ahead with a long planned new extension for the visual arts, but clearly this was too late to enable building to be started or completed this summer. One option was to wait until next summer, 2019, to move forward. This change was not unanticipated, however, and we already had a plan that will mean students will benefit from most of the developments immediately, with more to follow through the coming year.
Car park, outside seating, corridors
The landscaping of the areas outside our Sports Centre has been completed. This will provide extra recreation and seating areas for students during fine weather. The landscaping of the car park slope is almost complete, creating a more attractive environment at the entrance. Primary corridor floors, walls and ceilings have been re-surfaced and much better lighting has been installed, giving a light and airy feel to these well-used thoroughfares. New noticeboards have been installed throughout.
Building on the success of our morning and lunchtime ad hoc music performances and busking, we have upgraded our shared areas to better facilitate music and performing arts around the school. Our Atrium is now equipped with a sound system and mixing desk, our Auditorium (the circular area in Primary), has been brightened up with lighter paint and has been equipped with an LED screen and new sound system and mixing desk. Sports Hall 1 (the original one), now has a built-in sound system to add to the projector and screen, which will improve large scale productions and concerts.
Technology and Science
We have added one more fully equipped science laboratory that will allow far more of our science lessons to be taught in state-of-the-art laboratory spaces. Our laser cutter, large format printer and other technology equipment have been relocated from the art room into a small technology room to allow easier access by students across the year groups, primary and secondary. This connects with the extension plans, and means that Art is now located in two of our new classrooms.
New Classrooms and the new Visual Arts Centre
Five new secondary classrooms, equipped to the same high standards we are accustomed to having been placed alongside the service road next to Sports Hall 1. Two of these will house art and the others will be general purpose secondary classrooms.
These will all re-locate in due course to a new and impressive Visual Arts Centre, to be placed between the new sports pitches and the main school building. The timing of this depends on the progress of the remaining documentation and permits and I will update all in our community when I have more detail. This will be a wholly pre-fabricated building, constructed off-site and installed with no disruption to the day-to-day leaning in school. We have learnt much in recent years about managing expansion and I can assure everyone that this building will be installed in short time with near-zero noise, at a time which avoids any particularly sensitive events such as exams.