A £10million Hartsdown Academy building project is underway

How the new teaching block at Hartdown Academy will look (dha planning)

An ambitious £10million building project at Hartsdown Academy in Margate is now underway.

The school plans to knock down five of its teaching blocks and create a new school building and sports hall extension.

The three phase project also includes refurbishment of the current main block once funding has been secured.

Hartsdown Academy had originally been earmarked in the Building Schools for the Future programme which began its first phase in 2005. But when the programme was scrapped and replaced with a new scheme in 2012 Hartsdown was not included on the list of schools to benefit from a rebuild despite the buildings poor condition.

Finally, in May 2015, the Minster of State for Schools announced the Government would fund a further £2billion school building programme. Some 277 schools, including Hartsdown, were selected.

The current building is in poor condition

Head teacher Matthew Tate says the build will give students a modern and positive space and demonstrates that they are worth investing in.

He said: “The building is designed to deliver modern education with interactive whiteboards and good ICT. The current 1950s building is not designed for these things.

“The design will also reduce bullying as we have been careful to include passive supervision, so there will be no dark corners.

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“We will be able to get new DT equipment and have a positive space for the canteen and library. Importantly, it will allow students to put a bad deal behind them. Other schools had new buildings and Hartsdown did not. Now they can see that investment in them and their education and that in itself is a positive thing and will make them feel differently and the school.

“Another benefit will be that it will increase community use of our sports facilities. Currently the changing area is not good enough for that but once the build is done we can make more use of it.”

The first phase is the demolition of the dining, library and humanities blocks. This will be the site of the main build of a new two storey and part three store teaching block.

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Documents from DHA planning and Keir Construction outline proposals for the new site with art rooms on the upper floors to obtain natural daylight, engineering spaces on the ground floor  and food technology adjacent to the dining hall.

The first floor of the teaching block will accommodate the majority of standard classrooms such as ICT and graphics.

Work was due to begin on August 8 to remove asbestos but this was delayed until last month (September) due to contractual issues. Demolition of the buildings will be next with workers currently stripping out the Year 7 transition block and canteen. The new build is expected to be completed by January/February 2020.

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The second phase will be demolition of the music block and one storey buildings at the rear to create a Sports Hall block with new changing rooms, an activity studio, music rooms and a classroom providing additional teaching support.

This part of the scheme is expected to take around 6 months and  should be completed by September 2020.

A bid for funding for the third phase is already in and will hopefully be confirmed and completed next year. This will enable work to refurbish the current main block and increase it in size.

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The school will continue to run while work is carried out. There will be no temporary classrooms as payment for these would have to come out of the main build budget.

Mr Tate said: “It is doable. There will be some challenges, but it will be the end result. “

The 960 pupil school new build is not intended to mean an increase in the student roll.

Future ambitions for Hartsdown include the opening of a specialist unit for ASD students and the aim to become an all-through primary/secondary school serving children aged 4 – 19, similar to the St George’s site in Broadstairs.

Figures released by the Department for Education this month ranking schools on Attainment 8 – a grading system giving an average score across eight subjects taken at GCSE, including English and maths – placed Hartsdown as the county’s worst performing school  with a score of 23.3 compared to a national average of 46. However, the gradings focus only on GCSE results and make no distinction between selective and non-selective schools, the impact of deprivation on catchment areas or student ability at the time of entry to the school.