Special guests ‘bowled over’ by £20m academy

The official opening of the new Parkwood Academy building which opened its doors a year ago. Members of the ukulele group entertain the audience
The official opening of the new Parkwood Academy building which opened its doors a year ago. Members of the ukulele group entertain the audience
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SPECIAL guests were ‘bowled over’ by a £20m Sheffield school which was officially unveiled exactly a year after it was completed.

Parkwood Academy in Shirecliffe welcomed Hillsborough and Brightside MP David Blunkett, former education secretary, to its ceremony yesterday.

Sir Bruce Liddington, director general of E-ACT which sponsors the academy, also attended to see a performance from the choir and youngsters at partner school Longley Primary School.

Principal Mike Westerdale said: “They were bowled over by the building - it gives an air of dynamism and enthusiasm that means wherever you go you just feel ready to learn.”

The academy, formerly Parkwood High, has 750 students.

And they are so enthused by its new facilities - including modern IT equipment, moveable doors for flexible learning, learning ‘hubs’ over three floors - that they are staying after the school bell.

Many attended the opening during their Easter break,

Mr Westerdale added: “We are very much focusing on becoming a community hub, it’s not just a 9am until 3pm academy.

“Our vision is that we open at 8am and close at 9pm and have as many different community groups using it as well.

“Currently the students are here until six, they love it and the IT facilities are here for them to use.”

Parkwood has had a successful first year - celebrating its ‘best-ever’ GCSE results and been hailed as one of the top 100 schools in the country for progress made between years seven and 11.

The new site was created as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme.

Mr Blunkett said: “The celebrations were a credit to the work of staff and students at Parkwood Academy.

“The fantastic resources and building they have has undoubtedly played a part in the year’s tremendous successes. However, with excellent resources you also need first class teaching, an area Parkwood is excelling at.

“It is wonderful to see a leadership team dedicated to not only their students and academy but also to the wider community.”