£14m classrooms opened

Aspire Academy's students [l-r] Macy Mahoney, Ryan Lindsay, and Evlanna Thomson enjoy class at their new school

Aspire Academy's students [l-r] Macy Mahoney, Ryan Lindsay, and Evlanna Thomson enjoy class at their new school

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Students at two high schools that merged to become an academy have moved into their new classrooms.

Youngsters at Aspire Academy hopped off the school bus at the school’s new £14m premises in Blackpool Old Road yesterday after enjoying an extended half-term break.

Staff had spent most of the week completing a number of ‘minor cosmetic jobs’ and undertaking health and safety training.

Deputy principal John Topping said: “For over two years we have been working hard to design and build a brand new co-located school our students will be proud to attend every day.

“There are not many young people who can look back in years to come and say they were part of a brand new school. It is exciting for them and for the staff.”

Building firm Carillion handed over keys to leaders at both Aspire and Highfurlong Special School, which is set to open next door on Monday.

Both schools are holding an open day for parents and visitors from 11am until 2pm on Saturday, November 21.

The event will mark the end of a three-year-long journey, which started in December 2012 when details of the merger were first revealed by The Gazette.

Collegiate had seen its pupil numbers fall to below 500 - down from more than a thousand a decade ago - while Bispham had around 870 pupils.

The figures meant school pupil numbers hit record lows, although they are set to rise again next year.

Blackpool Council’s schools boss, Coun John Jones, said: “This bodes well for the future and Aspire is really moving forward.

“It’s exciting, teachers and students have somewhere fresh and yesterday was a positive one for them. I hope they do well.”

Work on the new school began last year, with students making trips to see their new classrooms take shape.

The original stained glass panels from Blackpool Grammar School were also fitted at the new site, which also features a shared staff room, conference room, and a joint kitchen with a diner for students.

Carillion has now started work to flatten the old Highfurlong school, with demolition expected to be finished early next year.