When I first visited Dame Allan’s Schools in September 2019, the project to transform the North End of our senior site had been launched and we were looking to break ground in July 2020. Unfortunately we then had to put the project on hold for a year due the pandemic. We emerge now, blinking in the sunlight, into a very changed world. Yet there is comfort in knowing we can finally start work this July on the development which will mean so much to Dame Allan’s, now and in the future.
This exciting development will provide a much-needed increase in space and an upgrade to some of the more tired parts of our Fenham site. But it is far from being a vanity project. This is crucial work for us, to create the high quality facilities and spaces which our superb curriculum deserves.
The Schools have grown so much and our pupil numbers are going from strength to strength, rising from around 900 to nearly 1,200 during the past ten years. We are known for strong pastoral care and our range of activities in a broad education. We have a holistic approach to the way we develop and nurture every child who comes here. Academic results are important, but they are not everything.
With the new development comes outstanding facilities for our thriving arts curriculum. It will bring our wonderful art department together around a light and airy exhibition space which will allow pupils to showcase their work and be inspired by others. I hope it will be seen as a sign of how much we value art here at Dame Allan’s, a subject which is so often linked with well-being and positive self-expression.
Elsewhere, new science labs will mean the best facilities to enhance the pursuit of STEM careers - and I know pupils will have great fun taking part in practical work in these surroundings, too! And whilst the arts and sciences are incredibly important at Dame Allan’s, this development will also mean we can also build on our pastoral care by creating a dedicated well-being centre staffed by our excellent school counsellors and psychological therapist.
The North End development is a statement of intent and a vote of confidence, on behalf of the Governors and parent body, in the future of the school. I’ve enjoyed having a number of positive conversations with parents recently and I believe the development will provide a great opportunity to bring us together as we focus on the future.
For our staff and pupils, it’s going to be exciting to see the building going up. There will be disruption, but this project will also act as an energiser for us all. Our last major development was the building of our Junior School and nursery ten years ago. Although we have seen some development since – the Reece Technology Centre and drama studio to name two - this is the next transformative step in the future of the Schools. It will bring our buildings up to the standard of our academic excellence and it’s important that our pupils have facilities that will support and inspire their learning. More developments will follow in the years to come. For now, I hope you will join me in celebrating this great news for the Schools.