Preston School

Preston School

A Business and Enterprise Academy, offers students, teachers and the local community state-of-the-art sports facilities

Introduction

Preston School: A Business and Enterprise Academy, located in Yeovil, Somerset is a mixed comprehensive for all abilities, catering for learners aged between 11 to 16 years. It currently has a student population of 982.

In July 2011, after a robust evaluation by the school’s governors, the school became an academy in order to benefit significantly from greater autonomy in decision-making and take responsibility for maintaining and developing an innovative curriculum.

Background
A few years ago, Preston School underwent a feasibility study for the implementation of new sports facilities. With close to 1000 students and 145 members of staff, a need was identified to improve what was currently on offer. Moreover, headteacher Tony Bloxham felt that new, state-of-the-art facilities would help attract prospective students and as a trained PE teacher, places a huge importance on sports in schools, commenting: “Besides the obvious health and fitness benefits, we want to develop the right habits and attitudes in young people so they continue exercising and playing sports after they have left school.”

With an extensive site stretching over 17 acres, Preston School decided to go ahead with the new sports facilities plans.

The challenges
As an academy, Preston School is funded directly from the education funding agency. Since the economic downturn, capital budgets have been significantly reduced which means the school has to manage its capital very carefully. Tony comments, “Preston School has seen a staggering 90% reduction in its devolved formula capital grant. Therefore, we have to find ways to improve facilities through bids or creative partnerships.”

The solution
Createability built a new fitness gym, fully-equipped with the latest cardiovascular and weight stations, a studio, used for dance, spinning and other fitness classes, changing facilities, toilets, a netball court, football pitch and additional car parking. The sports hall also had a complete refurbishment, “The whole roof was replaced, new lights were installed and new flooring was laid,” explains Tony.

The project was completed on time and to budget. Tony comments, “From the initial meetings with 1610 right through to the finished buildings, the whole project took two and a half years. On the day of completion, we showcased the facilities to every year group in the school; the reaction was incredibly positive, making all the hard work worthwhile.”

Counting the benefits
Since the completion of the new facilities, the school has reported numerous benefits. Of real significance is the difference in participation in exercise of the school’s female students. Tony remarks: “It would seem that traditional physical education is perhaps too games orientated for many of our female students. The new facilities Createability constructed have been transformational for female pupils, offering them the opportunity to work out in the gym and take part in more modern forms of exercise such as dance or spinning.”

The bespoke student membership and corporate rate for staff has encouraged many to sign up. Commenting on his own personal use of the facilities Tony says: “Teaching in a big secondary school is a challenge; exercising after work in the new gym is a great way to manage stress.”

Moreover, the school extended the use of the facilities to the general public in a drive to enhance sports provision and opportunities to the local community and generate revenue for the school. A high proportion of parents use the facilities after dropping their children off to school and there have also been a vast number of past students using the gym including two paralympic hopefuls. Tony comments: “One of the great things about the new gym is there are plenty of occasions after school where staff, students and the public are all using it. It’s very special and brings the whole community together.”

With the help of a grant from the education funding agency, the school decided last minute to replace the whole roof of the sports hall. Createability agreed to the build alongside the rest of their work.

“I would recommend Createability to other schools. They are a straight-talking, honest organisation and were great to work with. There were a few special requirements towards the end, in particular with the new roof, but Createability were so accommodating. I am incredibly proud of what has been achieved.”
Tony Bloxham, Principal, Preston School

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  • Client: Preston School Academy
  • Contract Value: £855k