Sunderland academy gets the Hollywood treatment

Lord David Puttnam with performing arts pupils at the official opening of Academy 360, Pennywell.
Lord David Puttnam with performing arts pupils at the official opening of Academy 360, Pennywell.
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TEENAGERS got the chance to take to the stage for one of the film industry’s leading lights.

Movie producer Lord David Puttnam – whose credits include Chariots of Fire. The Mission, and The Killing Fields – toured Pennywell’s Academy 360 and gave top marks to its bold vision.

The former Sunderland University chancellor unveiled a plaque to officially open the building before being shown around and watching a theatrical performance by some of the students.

Three groups of young singers wowed the audience with their renditions of Fly Me To The Moon and Stay and Run with Lord Puttnam commenting on how impressed he was by them.

Academy 360 caters for students aged four to 16 and was formed by merging the former Pennywell School and Quarry View Primary School.

Housed in a multimillion-pound building, it was developed with the support of lead sponsor Gentoo, Sunderland City Council and Sir Bob Murray as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme.

Lord Puttnam said: “When, as Chancellor of the University of Sunderland, I first started visiting schools in the North East, Academy 360 was exactly the type of educational environment I hoped might, one day, be possible.

“There are dozens of committed people to thank for making this vision come about, none more so than Sir Bob Murray. It is people like Bob who understand that the best hope for the region, in fact for the country in general, lies in optimising the education and skills of all of our young people.

“I’m absolutely delighted to play a small part in recognising and celebrating their achievement.”

He said the main challenge for the academy is to create a good ethos which can be carried on by future pupils and staff in years to come.

Paul Prest, chief executive of the academy, said: “We could have officially opened this building sooner, but were really keen that the honours were done by someone who shares our commitment to a new approach to education and learning in the 21st century. So, when Lord Puttnam agreed to join us, we were delighted, and decided that this would be a very appropriate moment to formally open the academy.

“Academy 360 has a vision to create an innovative learning environment, where young people live, learn, and grow into well-rounded, well-educated adults, who leave here with the ambition and, more importantly, the skills to succeed.

“Our intentions for Academy 360 are bold and brave, but crucially, they are attainable. We care about each and every young person’s future and are doing all that we can to help them realise their potential. This building symbolises that.”