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Les Walton and Estelle Morris with students at the STEM centre

New STEM centre opens at Thorp Academy

State of the art facilities opened as part of priority schools building programme

Posted by Stephanie Broad | January 21, 2016 | Facilities management

The new state-of-the-art facilities at Thorp Academy are expected to make an enormous contribution to the academy’s continuing progress. Since the academy was formed in September 2014, when it was sponsored by the Northern Education Trust, students have achieved some of the best A-level successes in the borough, with results last year five per cent higher than the national averages for students achieving A*-B grades.

Executive Principal, Jonathan Morris, who opened the event together with Head of Academy, Karen Hailes, spoke at the opening about the importance of STEM subjects to the UK economy and the need to encourage more students to become involved at a local level.

Richard Calvert, Director General of the Finance and Corporate Directorate of the Department for Education was very interested to see the completed building as it was the first school in the north east to be built by Sir Robert McAlpine after the contractor won the contract to build a batch of seven schools in the area, funded via the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme funding, Round 3.

L-R: Jonathan Morris – Executive Principal, Thorp Academy, Andrew McAlpine – Director, Sir Robert McAlpine, Ian Kershaw - CEO, Northern Education Trust, Estelle Morris – Baroness Morris of Yardley, Eric Morgan – The Reece Foundation, Richard Calvert – Director General of the Finance and Corporate Directorate of the Department for Education, Les Walton CBE – Chair, Northern Education Trust. 

Department for Education, Schools Minister, Lord Nash, said: “The re-opening of the first new building at Thorp Academy is a key milestone for the Priority School Building Programme in the North East. 

“Ensuring all children have access to the best possible schools and facilities is just one part of our commitment to help all young people reach their potential regardless of their background. These buildings will provide modern, fit-for-purpose schools for pupils for many years to come.”

Estelle Morris, Baroness Morris of Yardley, gave the keynote address at the opening. She said: “The future prosperity of the UK is in part dependent on young people choosing to study STEM-related subjects so that they can tackle the global challenges which are already knocking on our door, such as sustainable economic development. STEM subjects are vital for a large number of careers so it is very exciting to see these wonderful new facilities which are sure to make a huge impact in providing wider career choices for students, which in turn, will help to regenerate the local economy and the country.”

The STEM building covers three floors and contains 11 fully-fitted science labs on the top floor. On floor one is the mathematics department with 11 classrooms, two ICT suites and two seminar rooms, whilst at ground floor level there is a double height cafeteria to cater for the whole school plus two specialist technology /engineering workshops, a construction area to teach building trades and two food technology rooms as well as a textile room.

Local charitable trust, The Reece Foundation, whose objective is to increase the long term and sustainable prosperity of the North East of England primarily through the promotion of engineering and manufacturing, has provided over £30k of funding to equip the engineering suite with the latest CNC milling machinery.      

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