STUDENTS dug deep to kick-start building work of South Tyneside’s first Anglican sixth form.
Year 11 pupils helped cut the first turf for Whitburn Church of England Academy’s new sixth form, which is due to be opened next September.
The ground-breaking ceremony was held to prepare the building’s foundation.
It is being constructed with the help of £1.9m from the Education Funding Agency and will eventually cater for up to 280 teenagers, aged between 16 and 18.
Depuity headteacher, Mr David Taylor – who is overseeing the construction and fitting – said: “This is an exciting day for the pupils and staff of the academy, and represents an important step in our preparations for our sixth form opening in September 2015. There is also much work going on behind the scenes, including an extensive programme of staff development, which will ensure that the excellent track record of our pupils at GCSE will continue at A-level.”
The ceremony was attended by Year 11 pupils, who will be in the academy’s first sixth form group, as well as Year 7 pupils and the vice-chairwoman of governors, Milda Small.
Staff from the academy, Brims Construction and AA Projects, who are acting as project managers for the build, were also present.
Whitburn C of E Academy was the first school in the borough to become an academy in January 2011.
Ms Small said: “I am delighted about the investment that is going into the new sixth form, but much more importantly, the investment in children’s education and future opportunities.”
Students are also delighted with the new build.
John O’Callaghan, a Year 11 student, said: “I am so excited about this sixth form.
“In the past I have seen pupils being upset and even crying that they had to leave Whitburn. I’m thrilled that I may be able to stay on here.”
Classmate Chelsea Harvey, added: “It is great that we get to stay with teachers we know and use all the new facilities.”
A sixth form opening evening will be held on December 11, where people will be able to see how the new building is progressing.
Mr Taylor added: “We welcome all prospective sixth form students to that event, in which they can find out about the A-level courses on offer, as well as the enrichment opportunities we shall be offering.
“They will also get the opportunity to meet our newly appointed head of sixth form and our team of A-level teaching staff”.