The High School Leckhampton was officially opened by the Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire Edward Gillespie OBE.
The school held the ceremony on Wednesday 30 November to officially open the £35 million carbon-neutral building, and to thank the people who had been involved in the process of building the school – the county council, the contractor, Kier, the architect, AHR – and those members of the community who have been instrumental in making the school a success in such a short space of time – the staff, parents and not least the pupils.
Guests arrived at the 400-seat auditorium to the sound of Year 8 pupil Finley South playing the grand piano. After speeches from Mr Dominic Burke, the CEO of the Balcarras Trust that oversees the school, and the Headteacher, Mrs Helen Wood, the school was officially opened by Lord-Lieutenant Edward Gillespie OBE, who unveiled a plaque.
Mrs Helen Wood said, “Good teaching and good facilities are crucial in creating a great school; one that achieves excellent outcomes for every child. The team are all passionate professionals, and real advocates for young people, and their dedication will provide a strong foundation upon which we can build a fantastic school. Our wonderful facilities will motivate our pupils to want to come to school and to thrive.”
Mr Edward Gillespie said, “I would like to thank and congratulate the Balcarras Trust, the parents and pupils on the founding of this flagship school in the heart of the community. The High School Leckhampton opened its doors right at the start of a new era and this is an opportunity for the pupils, teachers, governors, and the community to be part of something special right from the beginning. I really wish it every possible success.”
A vote of thanks was given to Mr Gillespie by Year 8 pupils Holly Hartman and Harry Wallace on behalf of the students.
They said, “The opening of our new school marks an important change for Cheltenham and we are confident it is a very positive change indeed. At the High School Leckhampton, we have a very strong sense of community spirit. We hope the pupils from our school, both current and in the future, will go on to achieve great things in our local community.”
Guests were then taken on a tour of the new school by pupils to view the state-of-the-art facilities, including six science labs, ten ICT suites, a music suite, and drama studio. Its sports facilities include a full-size floodlit Astro-turf pitch, grass playing fields, sports hall, fitness suite and six outdoor tennis tables.Cllr Philip Robinson, cabinet member for education at Gloucestershire County Council, said, “I have visited this site at various stages of construction and have been waiting in keen anticipation for the building to open its doors to pupils. Now that this flagship school has officially opened, it is even better than I expected.
“As a former teacher, I know how important these secondary years are in setting children up for the rest of their lives. Here, at The High School Leckhampton the pupils will be getting a fabulous education in a wonderful environment that will prepare them for every success in the future.”
Andy Bolas, regional director at Kier Construction, Western & Wales, said, “It is wonderful to be part of the event and to see the staff and students enjoying these fabulous state-of-the art facilities. The project clearly shows our commitment to constructing environmentally sustainable buildings – the secondary school is carbon neutral and supports Gloucestershire County Council’s pledge to cut carbon emissions by 2030.
“As a Gloucestershire-based business, we are extremely proud to deliver schemes like this one and we look forward to seeing it positively serve the community now and in the future.”