WORK has started on a major £17m regeneration programme at two Hartlepool schools.
Official turf-cutting ceremonies took place at the town’s Manor College of Technology and Barnard Grove Primary School to mark the start of works to renovate the buildings as part of the Government’s Priority School Building Programme (PSBP).
Barnard Grove headteacher Lee Walker hailed the scheme as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.
Manor College of Technology, built in 1966, is to have £14m spent on it, while the work at 50-year-old Barnard Grove site is costing £2.8m.
Government ministers say the £2.4 billion programme is to rebuild 261 of England’s schools in the worst condition.
Students at the 1,250-capacity Manor College will benefit from a new three-storey ‘super block’ with updated teaching facilities and a specialist block for 30 pupils with learning difficulties, as well as a major refurbishment of the sports hall and a new multi-use games area.
The new two-storey building at Barnard Grove will provide places for 315 pupils and a 26-place nursery.
Anne Malcolm, headteacher of Manor College, said: “This is such an exciting time for the Manor family and we are thrilled by the plans for our new school, they are amazing.
“The whole process has been carefully managed by the Education Funding Agency and with the support of the local authority, the project is going ahead with little impact upon the school community.
“Pupils, staff and governors are eagerly anticipating the brand new facilities.”
Mr Walker said: “Excitement is already building at the prospect of us moving into facilities that will provide our children with the best possible environment for learning.
“The support of our governing body and the local authority has been crucial in getting us to this long-awaited day, and we look forward to Barnard Grove Primary School continuing to be at the heart of our community.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us, we can’t wait until next summer when we can move into our new building and start the next chapter in Barnard Grove’s history.”
The work at Barnard Grove is due for completion in July 2015, with work at Manor continuing until September 2016. The schools are being renovated by Kier Construction.
Councillor Chris Simmons, chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council’s children’s services committee, said: “Creating the very best, most stimulating learning environment for students is so important.
“This is what will be created at both sites and I’m sure everyone at Barnard Grove and Manor College is very excited to be getting a new school.”
Kier Construction area operations manager, Gary Dobson, said the firm was looking forward to creating two “inspirational and effecting learning environments for the young people of Hartlepool”.
Schools Minister David Laws said: “Delivering great new schools will help to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, so that every young person in Hartlepool can get on in life.”