A step into the future

I was on duty on the field when I found out. Mr Neale, our Business Manager, came to find me. “We’ve got the new Science and Technology block,” he said. It took a moment to sink in, but then we were both grinning from ear-to-ear and shaking hands. It was the news that we’d been waiting for.

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It’s a strange experience receiving the news that the Academy has been awarded £3,905,857 in government funding. When I got back to my office, there was an email waiting for me with the subject line “Application Outcome – Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) 2017-18″. The email went on:

Dear Colleague,

Thank you for applying to the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) 2017 to 2018.

We received requests for more than £1.3 billion for over 3800 projects to this year’s round. Following our assessment of applications, we have announced £466 million for 1435 projects across 1184 academies and sixth-form colleges.

You can view the full list of successful projects at…

The link takes you to a Department for Education website page. Then you have to download a spreadsheet. Then you need to scroll through the spreadsheet which lists all 1435 successful projects, looking for North Somerset…and there it is. Churchill Academy. “Replacement of Science Labs and Design Technology facilities.” We’ve got the bid.

Only about a third of the bids submitted across the country were successful. We are one of only four bids in North Somerset to be funded this year. For the Academy, it’s the culmination of years of hard work. The first bid to replace our ageing Tudor block was submitted in 2014 – and was unsuccessful. Since then, we’ve been working tirelessly to convince the Education Funding Agency that the building – originally built in the mid-1950s for the very first students to come to the new school in Churchill – was in need of replacement.

Tudor Roof

Photographs from our CIF bid showing some of the issues with the Tudor block roof

We’ve had surveys. We’ve had health and safety and environmental audits. We’ve had structural reports. We’ve been up on the roof to photograph the cracks, leaks and gaps. And we’ve put hours and hours into planning for the replacement buildings, working with our architects and our contractors to ensure that every detail was considered and every eventuality planned for.

In the last cycle of funding, we were awarded £1.3 million to build our new Computing and Business Studies block, which is very nearly finished. That project has run like clockwork, with minimal disruption to the Academy, and is due to be handed over to us by the end of April. We will then fit it out with computers and equipment, ready for students in June.

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Computing and Business Studies building – nearly finished!

That building replaces the top floor of the Tudor block, and was called “Phase One.” We submitted “Phase Two” – the replacement of the ground and first floor  – in December 2016. At the top of the submission documents, I wrote a letter to plead our case, which concluded:

“2017 is the school’s Diamond Jubilee year. Our main building has served us well for sixty years, but the students of 2017 deserve better than to receive their education in a building designed and built for the students of 1957. Its replacement is now a necessity.”

All that hard work has paid off. The second phase of the project will go up on the site of “The Cage” behind the Sports Centre, and will include twelve brand-new Science Labs and two modern and fully equipped catering rooms. Work has already begun this week in preparation for the build. Ground will be broken this summer. The first students are due to go into the new facilities at the beginning of 2019. Now all that’s left to do is to bid for the funding to demolish the decommissioned building…

It’s Mr Neale’s last term-time week at the Academy this week, as he is relocating to take up a new role after Easter. He’s been busy tying up loose ends, handing over to those taking over, and in particular seeing our current building project through to completion. I’d like to pay tribute to him here as he leaves us, and thank him for his contribution to Churchill. The facilities that students will enjoy for generations to come are a fitting legacy for him to leave behind – we all wish him well in the future.

Churchill at 60: February 1957

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As you will know, Churchill is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee this year. The school first opened its doors to teachers and pupils sixty years ago, and I shared with you earlier this term the first entry from the school log book when the very first children and staff arrived.

February 1957 was an even more momentous month, as the existing secondary school in Churchill – Churchill Church of England Voluntary Controlled Secondary School – transferred all its resources and students over to the new Churchill School on our current site. The event is recorded in the school’s log book by the Headmaster, Mr Dennis, as follows:

13.2.57

Following the decision of the Governors and with the help of Mr Haydon, Headmaster of the Churchill V.C. Secondary School, all the books, equipment and furniture of that school were moved into this school. During the afternoon, the children of the V.C. school came down with their teachers, bringing their books and personal belongings. An assembly was held, and the Headmaster welcomed staff and pupils to the new school.

The school closed at 4 o’clock for the four-day grant of holiday occasioned by the Somerset Teachers Course and half-term.

After half term, the school was fully open – although not without its difficulties:

Wednesday, February 20th

The school re-opened this morning with its full complement of children and staff. Children were dispersed as follows:

  • 1c – Mrs Cornish
  • 1b – Miss Young
  • 1a – Miss Ford
  • IIc – Mr Lloyd
  • IIb – Mrs Miell
  • IIa – Mr Harris
  • IIIc – Mr Griffiths
  • IIIb – Mr Hector
  • IIIa – Mr Livingstone
  • IVb – Miss Owen
  • IVa – Mr Simmons

Twelve children from the Holmfield Close area of Winscombe were absent to-day. This was due to their being detained at home by their parents as a protest against there being no school bus provided from that area.

It sounds like there were a few teething troubles for the Head to cope with!

I will continue to update this blog with extracts from the school Log Book throughout this Diamond Jubilee year – they will be collected in the Churchill at 60 category. In the meantime please be sure to have a look at our Churchill at 60 webpage and, if you have memories to share or want to reminisce, join our Churchill at 60 Facebook group.

 

Churchill at 60: the first day of school

Sixty years ago this week, on 14th January 1957, the first students and members of staff started in the brand new Churchill Secondary Modern School. The school later became Churchill Community School and, more recently, Churchill Academy & Sixth Form. The 14th January 1957 is recorded by hand as the first entry in the School Log Book, which was passed to me as I took up post at Headteacher a year ago.  Click on the pictures below to read the log book – the “Administrative Memorandum” is especially interesting! – and see below for a transcript of the first entry.

 

January 14th, 1957

The first Headmaster, Reginald J. Dennis B.Sc., took up duty to-day, together with the following members of staff.

  1. Mr J. Simmonds – Deputy Headmaster
  2. Miss G.A. Ford B.Sc.
  3. Mrs Young
  4. Mrs King – a supply teacher, filling a vacant post.

First year secondary school children, together with a few second year children, were absorbed from the following primary schools: Banwell, Winscombe, Wrington and Blagdon. They were disposed in the following classes:

  • IF – 32
  • IK – 33
  • IY – 32
  • II – 27
  • Total – 124

As the building was unfinished, it was only possible to make use of four rooms on the second floor. The back door of the building had to be used as work was still in progress at the front entrance.

The kitchens were not ready for occupation and hence school dinner was brought to the school in containers from the central kitchen at Yatton.

The Chairman of the Governors, Lt. Colonel Lee, D.S.O., visited the school this morning. He said that he had come to wish the staff and school a happy and successful life in this new building.

It sounds like an exciting time, bringing together children from the local community into a brand new secondary school in a brand new building. It’s fantastic to think that, although the world is very different now, we are continuing the work that they started sixty years ago.

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To mark our Diamond Jubilee, we have created a special “Churchill at 60” page on our website. We will be updating the page with photographs from the school’s history, information about events, and memories from the sixty years that there has been a school on this site.

If you have, or if you know anybody that has, any photographs or memories from the early days of the school, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact the school on churchill@churchill-academy.org with the subject line “Churchill at 60“.

I will be including guest posts from the Log Book over the coming months as we prepare for the 60th Anniversary of the school’s official opening in September. Watch this space!