News & Events
Out with the Old, in with the New!
As we move out of the remaining parts of our old buildings, it is with a certain nostalgia but also with a huge sense of excitement.
Our Main Block was built in 1938. The mostly single storey design had many quirky features which lent character to our school. It contains some large, airy classrooms, some beautiful parquet wood flooring, a grassy quadrangle – the site of countless barbeques. Our West Block – now demolished – also had a certain charm.
However, the buildings were not fit for purpose. The ancient heating system was gradually rusting away, and I felt a sense of dread as each winter approached – would this be the year the heating finally and completely gave out? Our many and growing number of pipe leaks under the floor added to the sense of impending doom.
Meanwhile, every time heavy rain came, tours of the building would establish where new roof leaks had emerged. Roofs, ultimately of the same design as a garden shed, could be patched and re-patched each year, but again it felt as if the leaks were becoming more frequent each winter. Our wooden walls throughout West Block, as rot set in, were less straightforward to repair.
As the school narrowly missed out on government school rebuilding programmes, we increasingly had to consider whether the school would be sustainable in the long run, particularly as at that time (the early 2010s) the school roll was falling.
In 2017-18, a number of key people within the Local Authority, most notably Jaswinder Didally and Zahid Mahmood, stepped in to support the school in making the case to the Council that replacing the building was the best option. Their support at that stage and since has been crucial in delivering this wonderful new building to the children of this community, and I will always be grateful for their efforts – they are truly unsung heroes, and our community will benefit from their commitment and professionalism for decades to come.
With the go ahead secured, we began working with Ryan Turner at Acivico, who has supported the school at every stage in achieving a new building that fits our vision of a broad curriculum with the very best facilities. Ryan’s firstly thought at every stage has been ‘what will work best for the school and the children’. The architects, led by Martin Lester, designed a building which will be filled with light, with ‘light wells’, wide corridors and stairways, to help ensure a calm and pleasant environment – so different from the narrow, crowded corridors of our old buildings. Balfour Beatty, the builders, led by Martin Farrell onsite, have performed miracles, keeping the build schedule on track despite the pandemic and despite a serious outbreak on the site itself, which saw many Balfour Beatty staff poorly or isolating. They have also kept listening and working closely with us at every stage. I have heard many horror stories of school new builds – our experience has been completely different, for which we are profoundly grateful.
We have been determined that we would ensure that the IT, furniture and equipment in the new building matches the potential of the building itself. Toward that end, every classroom has new ‘teaching walls’, interactive screens and furniture. A purpose built library will continue to be a focal point of the school. A dance studio, a truly immense Sports Hall, a Main Hall with brand new sound and lighting will all add to what our children can experience during their time here. Expect performances, shows and sports events as soon as Covid allows!
As Turves Green Girls’ School becomes King Edward VI Northfield School for Girls, we are determined that the wonderful building we now have will serve as a tool to transform opportunities, build aspiration and further develop our academic success to new heights!