Pupils are revelling in their new £9m surroundings at Blackpool’s latest revamped school.
Unity Academy has this term unveiled the first phase of its £9m redevelopment as well as ambitious plans to turn the school around.
The primary and secondary school, on Warbreck Hill Road, has new primary classrooms, a dining hall and dance studios.
And work is now under way on phase two to redevelop the older high school buildings, including all new windows and recladding the buildings, and new science labs.
The school, formerly Beacon Hill High School then Unity College, converted to academy status, sponsored by the Fylde Coast Academy Trust – an alliance of several schools working together – from September 1 and staff see it as a new beginning.
New principal Chris Lickiss (below) said: “This is a completely new, fresh start for the school.”
The school saw a 29 per cent pass rate for GCSEs at A* to C this summer and now aims to exceed that next year.
The principal, who saw his last school, Ashton Community Science College in Preston, go from rated as satisfactory by Ofsted to outstanding during his eight years there and took its own GCSE pass rate from 27 per cent to more than 60 per cent, is confident in his staff and students.
He said: “We have to ensure within our school there is that culture of wanting to achieve, wanting to be successful and understanding why we need to be achieving.”
The school is home to children ages four to 16, with a two-form entry primary school and a secondary school with up to 95 children in each year group, as well as a SERF unit for children with moderate learning difficulties and a centre for children with behavioural problems.
The new term has brought with it some new rules and structures, including a move to five one-hour lessons each day, form time at the end of the school day and a stricter focus on attendance, punctuality and uniform.
And it is also opening up on Saturday morning to run study clubs for GCSE pupils.
There are ambitions for a phase three development, to revamp the school’s sport facilities and make the buildings a hub for the community to use year round.
Mr Lickiss added: “We can’t do anything about the past, all we can do is determine the future for our pupils.”