Portslade school to mark milestone in £12m revamp

Posted On 19 Apr 2013 at 9:58 pm

A topping out ceremony will take place at the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) on Tuesday (23 April).

The ceremony will mark the completion of the first stage of a £12.7 million building and refurbishment project taking place on PACA’s Chalky Road site.

The project is intended to modernise the Mile Oak school and make space for the sixth form who are currently taught about a mile away in High Street, Portslade.

The High Street site is expected to become the temporary base for the new King’s School, the Church of England secondary school which is due to open in September.

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At PACA’s Chalky Road site the building company Keepmoat has completed the main structure of the new sixth form centre and an internal refurbishment of existing buildings.

Portslade old boy Sir Rod Aldridge, who became a millionaire after founding the outsourcing business Capita and went on to set up the Aldridge Foundation, will perform the topping out.

Sir Rod Aldridge

Sir Rod Aldridge

Students and staff will be joined by governors, councillors and MPs along with representatives from the Aldridge Foundation for the celebration.

The foundation co-sponsors the academy with Brighton and Hove City Council. Staff from the council and Keepmoat are due to attend the event.

The foundation’s chief executive Honor Wilson-Fletcher, who chairs the academy’s board of governors, said: “When work is fully completed the students will be on one site and they will be able to use wireless technology anywhere in the academy.

“We will have bright, open spaces and a new students’ entrance which will be separate to the entrance for adults.

“There will be a new science centre with separate dedicated physics, chemistry and biology labs, a new community library and the Adult Education Centre.

“We would like to thank the local community, and particularly our immediate neighbours, for their patience and support during the building programme.

“This will be a great facility for the whole Portslade community for years to come.”

Sir Rod said: “‘I very much envy the sixth formers and scientists who will study here.

“This is such an inspiring space which is what PACA students deserve.

“The panoramic views from the huge windows and balconies of this new building are amazing.

“We fought hard for the money from government to improve the buildings here, so this is a special day.

“But what I am really looking forward to is the day when these rooms are filled with young people, excited to learn.

“We’re very grateful for the hard work of a lot of people and partners to make this happen.

“Our shared vision has been that the academy is an inspiring place to be.

“I feel passionately that our students and the community deserve nothing less.”

Councillor Sue Shanks

Councillor Sue Shanks

Councillor Sue Shanks, chairman of the council’s Children and Young People Committee, said: “This new building will provide first class facilities for local children, young people and adults, including the science labs that are needed for 21st century learning.

“I am particularly pleased to see the new community library and the spaces for adult and community learning, as bringing the community into the school has been at the heart of the secondary school in Portslade for many years.”

Building work started in June last year. The new sixth form and science centre are due to be completed by September. The refurbishment of the existing buildings, some of which date from the 1920s, is expected to be completed by February next year.

The project has not been without its challenges, with building work being carried out alongside the everyday workings of the school.

A key aim has been to carry out the work safely while not disrupting the students’ learning.

Keepmoat project manager Al Robinson said: “Throughout the work the key message has always been education before construction and the safety and wellbeing of the students and staff has always been our main concern.

“The project has progressed well, despite the adverse weather conditions we’ve experienced recently, and we’re pleased to be able to mark this important milestone.

“It’s great to see the building taking shape and celebrate the work which has been completed so far.”

PACA, which specialises in science, opened in September 2011. The academy, which is supported by Sussex University as its education partner, replaced Portslade Community College.


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