School re-vamp in focus

MAYOR Sir Robin Wales has visited the new brand new �28million Rokeby School.

The building, home to 900 students, features wider corridors, brighter classrooms and a specially constructed indoor sports hall that will be used by athletes training for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Sir Robin said: “I was delighted to be shown around this fantastic new school, which shows the value of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

“I’m saddened that a scheme which has proved so successful has been shelved by the Government.

“While I appreciate we live in tough economic times, it’s vitally important that we protect our youngsters’ future from the worst of the Coalition Government’s cuts.

“But the decision to cut short BSF has deprived hundreds of our children of the opportunity to learn in the best working environment possible.”

At last week’s opening ceremony, school governors, funders, staff and students celebrated the new school and enjoyed an energetic dance performance.

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Headteacher Charlotte Robinson said: “It’s a terrific teaching environment and our pupils are already making the most of new facilities. Our extended schools programme means that residents can enjoy dedicated community rooms and make use of fitness gym and sports hall outside school hours.”

Academic achievement at Rokeby has been improving year on year and this summer it produced a staggering set of GCSE results becoming the most improved school in the borough. The number of students gaining 5 GCSE grades A-C has increased from 16 per cent in 2005 to 64 per cent in 2010, placing it third overall among other schools in the borough.

The secondary school, which has been moved from its original site in Stratford to Barking Road, was funded by Building Schools for the Future (BSF), the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC) and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games.

Over the last four years LTGDC has committed five per cent of its total capital programme every year, totalling �9.5m, towards school building projects and education grants to improve education standards in East London. Rokeby was one of the first schools to benefit.

Funding from LTGDC has enabled the creation of exciting sports and community spaces. They include two community rooms that are already being used by the Custom House and Canning Town Community Forum and for parents and residents attending weekly ‘English as a second language’ lessons. Other improvements funded by LTGDC include a fitness centre, a floodlit outdoor multi-use games area and two additional badminton courts, on top of the four which were part of the original plans.

John Middleton, head of economic development at LTGDC, said: “Investing in education is a vital part of our work to ensure the genuine transformation of East London and an enduring regeneration legacy.

“Schools are at the heart of the community and are key to the physical regeneration of the area. They are the anchors and attractors of talent and a key determining factor in where families decide to live and businesses choose to locate. But unless more is done to accelerate improvements in education and skills then the transformation of East London will be incomplete.

“It is fantastic to see the impact our investment and others has improved facilities at Rokeby, proving just how important it is that we continue to support secondary schools in our area.”

The six court indoor sports hall will be used as a training venue by athletes in the build up and during the 2012 Games. It will also be used by the Ramgaria, for badminton and by Newham All Star Sports Academy (NASSA) for basketball.

There is also a spacious performance hall with designated dance and drama studios and an indoor and covered outdoor dining area.

The whole building has the highest standard of ICT so that the modern curriculum and teaching practice can be delivered to all students.

Newham Council, Building Schools for the Future Investments (BSFi), developer Laing O’Rourke and educational ICT specialist RM have formed a Local Education Partnership (LEP) to deliver the BSF programme. The LEP shareholders have formed a PFI company to deliver the Rokeby scheme and have secured funding from Aviva for these projects.