Lockdown may have meant students have not been much in evidence recently at Smithdon High School in Hunstanton, but that does not mean the place has been quiet, as it has provided an opportunity to continue the overhaul of the school’s facilities and buildings.
Over the last year, around £1 million has been invested in purpose-built new classrooms, roofing and windows throughout the school site, and a major refurbishment of the sports hall.
The latest improvement work has seen a significant makeover for the school library with the demolition of the old disused swimming pool also going through the planning process.
“We always look for positives in anything, even school closure,” said head teacher John Hirst. “With many fewer children in school, it has meant that some of the things we had planned for the summer we can get done now. This has meant anything from essential groundworks, through to the refurbishment of the library.”
Smithdon, which is famed for its striking post-war architectural design, is a member of the 11-school West Norfolk Academies Trust.
The library redesign includes capacity for one-to-one learning, space for a full class, a quiet reading area, and the school’s fifth computer suite, with room for an entire class of students.
Amanda Wright, Smithdon's Head of English, was thrilled by the possibilities the new facilities presented.
"The library is the heart of the English department, we use it all the time and the computer suite will make life so much easier when we are using our Accelerated Reader programme," she said.
Head of School, Amanda Gibbins, said she could not wait to see it being put to use by students when they return.
"We constantly evaluate what we are doing at Smithdon and how we could use our resources more effectively and efficiently," she said. "This is now a great multi-functional space, we just can't wait to get the students back in and using it."
Mr Hirst said that while immediate concerns of the pandemic era had been taken into account, the new look was designed for the challenges of the years to come.
“We will be out of this pandemic at some point in the near future and we want to ensure that we are best equipped to educate the future generations of children in the area,” Mr Hirst added.
“It’s very much future-proofed. What we are really trying to do is look beyond the pandemic and reconfigure and imagine spaces in different ways to enhance the students' experience and ensure that Smithdon is well equipped for the new demands and challenges it faces over the next few years. The changes we have made will support the highest quality learning for many years to come.”
With demand for places growing, Mr Hirst said he hoped the on-going redevelopment of the site on Downs Road would make Smithdon High an even more popular choice for local families.
“Numbers on the school roll are significantly increasing as the popularity of the schools grows,” he said, “This investment ensures families and students can be confident that they have a modern and well-resourced school with some of the best specialist teachers and support staff in Norfolk.”
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