New building for Backwell School

STUDENTS from Backwell School will soon be able to enjoy brand new facilities including a purpose built dance studio and theatre.

The school has been given �2.6million from North Somerset Council for a new building which will comprise a new social and working area for sixth form students, a dance studio, a lecture and performance theatre with retractable seating for 230 people and extra classrooms on the first floor for its diploma courses.

The building will replace some huts which have been used as classrooms by the school and it will also spread onto some hard surface on the premises.

Despite the exciting new plans for the school, staff were also hit with some bad news this month. As it was rated as a high performing specialist school by Ofsted, Backwell School had been invited to take up a second specialist area.

Staff wanted to specialise in modern languages so they could introduce Mandarin Chinese and Arabic, go into primary schools to start language teaching at an early age and introduce more courses to the community.

The school already teaches French, Spanish and German to A-level, Latin to GCSE level and conversational Mandarin but staff were hoping to be able to offer more to their students and the wider community.

However, due to the latest cuts being introduced by the Government, the school has now been told it will not be able to pursue a second specialism this year.

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Headteacher Julian Baldwin said: “We are disappointed. We’ve been doing Mandarin already and we are going to carry on offering it but if we had been able to proceed with the second specialism we would have had extra funding to support it.

“We are hoping we’ll be able to take up the second specialism somewhere down the line. I’ve written to the secretary of state for education to ask the government to reconsider.

“We were disappointed that the money for the second specialism was taken away but it’s not going to stop languages continuing to be a really strong area of the curriculum at the school.

“But we’ve also had good news for the school as we’re getting a new, much-needed building.”

The design for the building has already been drawn up and the plans submitted to North Somerset Council.

If planning permission is granted the new building could be open by September 2011.