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Over the summer, contractors have been busy helping us to achieve our first step towards the redevelopment of the King James site, with the construction of a 4G artificial turf pitch (ATP) on the site of the former all-weather pitch. This state-of-the art sports facility marks the beginning of our Academy transformation.
The new pitch will provide a floodlit playing surface which can be used for football, rugby and a range of other sports. 4G, or fourth generation, in our case, means that the pitch will be installed with a ‘shock pad’ which will support the playing of contact sports such as rugby, where additional protection is required.
News of the 4G ATP development has spread rapidly and we have already received advanced bookings from a range of local clubs who are keen to take early advantage of the facility and of our promotional prices. We are currently charging a promotional rate of £1 per person per hour for 5-a-side and full pitch bookings (based upon 12 and 24 players respectively) and we are keen for this to be a community resource which allows players of all ages to take full advantage of the opportunities it provides.
As well as developing our sporting facilities we will also be offering, as part of a range of new Sixth Form courses, a Level 3 Sports Course with the support of Martin Gray of the Martin Gray Football Academy (MGFA). This course will enable students to complete a Sport qualification equivalent to three A Levels, along with another A Level, if they wish, to gain a coaching award and to experience life as a professional sports person. Students will be regularly taking part in tournaments and visiting local clubs.
Following the opening of our new pitch, which we estimate will be in mid September, we will be starting the construction phase of our new building development with the support of Sir Robert McAlpine. This phase will help to create a fantastic new building to accommodate 70% of our departments, with the remainder being accommodated within the refurbished listed buildings (Middle School).
We have continued to work with Sir Robert McAlpine and Space Group, throughout the Summer holidays, to fine tune designs and to ensure that we achieve the best possible outcome. We are currently choosing the colours for departments’ feature walls and the floor covering for all buildings, as well as coming to terms with a ‘lock suiting’ strategy (who gets which keys!). To have moved so quickly from our successful bid to a point where we are considering the finer details is impressive; building work is anticipated to start in December and we expect rapid progress during this first phase.
Within a year we will have completed the majority of the building work and students will be entering their new school for the first time. From the new sports hall to the much larger science laboratories, from the Theatre with bleacher seating to the new Sixth Form social area, from the Art Gallery to the Fitness Suite, we hope students will enjoy the new facilities and be proud of their new school.
King James I Academy, South Church Road, Bishop Auckland, County Durham DL14 7JZ