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School transformation bidders get pupils wish list

Press release: November 2008


School transformation bidders get pupils’ wish lists



Teachers and pupils described their dreams for the future when they were given the chance to meet firms bidding to transform schools in Blackburn with Darwen and Bolton.

They were taking part in a special event at Ewood Park to showcase their ideas for the new and remodeled schools that will be created through the multi million pound Building Schools for the Future programme.

It was the culmination of a six month project involving Pleckgate, Darwen Vale, Witton Park, Beardwood, Crosshill and Blakewater College high schools, which aimed to give young people a say in the new state-of-the art facilities that are planned.

The pupils had canvassed the views of other students, taken part in design workshops and visited famous London landmarks as part of the project so that they could put their ideas together in a design brief for the bidders. The project was run by the Sorrell Foundation, a national organisation which helps children to improve the quality of life in schools.

The event also featured a film produced by the PhotoVoice project, involving pupils from Darwen Academy, St Thomas’ pupil referral unit and Darwen Vale, Blakewater College, Witton Park and Newfield high schools. It included interviews with young people about their hopes for the future and how quality of learning could be improved.

Headteachers Lynn Dunning, from Darwen Vale, and Robin Campbell, from Pleckgate – the two ‘sample’ schools that will be the first to be transformed – also shared their visions of the future.

Lynn Dunning said: “Our vision is to have a learning centre that will create exciting learning experiences for our pupils and create opportunities for use by the community. We will incorporate the best facilities and resources currently available, but also provide the flexibility necessary to accommodate the requirements and technologies of the future.”

Robin Campbell said: “The aim is to provide a high quality learning environment with ICT rich, inspiring buildings. We are working towards a ‘learning zone’ approach in which teams of staff from different subject areas will together in close collaboration to provide a wide range of exciting learning experiences.”

Their presentations marked the start of the latest phase of BSF – the process of choosing a consortia of educationalists, architects, builders and information, communications technology (ICT) partners to work with both Blackburn with Darwen and Bolton councils to deliver the programme.

Earlier this month the search was narrowed down to three firms - Balfour Beatty Education, Catalyst Lend Lease and a new company that, if successful, would bring contractors including Laing O’Rourke and John Laing together under the name of BDB Learning Partnership. A final, preferred partner is expected to be appointed in September next year.

In all, nine Blackburn with Darwen high schools will be rebuilt or remodeled through BSF on eight sites between 2010 and 2015.

Deputy chief executive Harry Catherall said: “It was inspiring to see how much work pupils had put into coming up with ideas for their new schools and there was a tremendous energy in the room.

“BSF is giving young people the chance to directly influence the changes that will affect them, which is exactly as it should be.”

Councillor Ebrahim Adia, executive member for children’s services at Bolton Council, said: “This event proves the value of BSF in not only providing excellent education facilities but also giving children a real say in their future.

“We’re hopeful that our schools will enter the programme by April of next year.”

Blackburn with DarwenBolton