The first day at school is a momentous occasion for all children. But at a new super-school in Sheffield the first day was a memorable time for pupils, teachers and the whole community.
The £17 million school, run by Oasis Learning Trust, has opened its doors in Attercliffe on the site of the former Don Valley Stadium.
The Oasis Academy Don Valley – which is an ‘all-through school’ – will offer education for nursery children from the age of two all the way to secondary.
It has opened its doors to 110 reception to Year 4 pupils, along with around a dozen nursery children – but by 2022 the pupil roll will have grown to 1,200 primary, secondary and early years places.
Those involved believe the school will kick-start regeneration and see the area ‘rising from the flames’.
It is the first element of the £50million Olympic Legacy Park in Sheffield to be completed.
The school has brought much-needed school places to the Darnall and Attercliffe communities and offers state-of-the-art facilities to pupils.
Principal James Pape said being involved in children’s education from when they are two right up to when they turn 16 was a great opportunity.
He said: “It is an exciting day for Oasis Academy Don Valley. It is wonderful to see the building take on a sense of purpose after the extensive planning and building works that have taken place.
“It is great to see the academy with teachers and pupils present and the real job of learning can finally begin.
“Our aim is to make Oasis Academy Don Valley become a learning hub, at the heart of our community.
“The pupils joining us have taken a giant leap forward in helping us realise this aim and they are paving the way for generations of future children.
“Everything has gone really well and as planned. The children seem to love the new school.
“To take them all the way through their education is really beneficial to them.
“Transition across any year group is always difficult. I am a secondary practitioner by trade, so I know that to take children from Year 7 from a number of different primary schools is always difficult and there is often a dip between Years 6 and 7.
“They have to learn new routines and make new friends. We’ll completely avoid that here.
“The Year 4 pupils who have started here will be the first to move into the secondary side of the school, and be the first year to leave us.”
As well as the school, the Olympic Legacy Park will include an Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), a university technical college, multi-purpose basketball courts and a purpose-built complex to feature a high-quality synthetic pitch, a main stand seating 2,500 and a hotel.
The Sheffield Eagles are due to move into the proposed new stadium in 2017, on the site of their former home.
Jane Ellison MP, the Minister for Public Health, yesterday visited the site of Sheffield Hallam University’s AWRC, which aims to tackle key issues of rising obesity and static levels of physical activity, while also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.
She outlined Government priorities on tackling obesity and encouraging physical activity – in particular noting its forthcoming new childhood obesity strategy.
The AWRC aims to set up a partnership of around 20 companies and act as a hothouse of innovation, bringing together those who make things like apps, activity loggers, sports equipment, orthotics, and even clinical devices.
In March 2015 the Government announced £14million of funding to help develop the AWRC and in May Toshiba signed up to be its first partner in a £1.5m deal.
Meanwhile, planning permission has been granted for the UTC 2 Sheffield for Human Sciences and Computing and work is due to start soon on the £10m building.
It will open in September 2016 and will eventually take 600 students.
Young people, aged 14 to 19, will gain academic qualifications, GCSEs and A-levels, in addition to a technical qualification to develop industry skills.