Work commences on new Portsmouth school as former pupils return

FORMER pupils spanning almost 80 years of education returned to Mayfield School for its ground-breaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction of its new school.

By Neil Fatkin
Thursday, 13th February 2020, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 4:45 pm

Lord Mayor David Fuller, himself a former pupil, was joined by the school’s oldest pupil, Lawrence Cooper, 16, and its youngest, Anais Reid, four, in making the first dig to lay the new foundations.

Lawrence said: ‘It will be sad for me as I won’t be able to return and say “this is where I went to school”. However the current building is looking pretty tired and the new school is going to be something all students can be proud of.

‘I’ve younger siblings who can now look forward to a clean, warm and energy-efficient school with fantastic facilities.’

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An artist's impression of how the new Mayfield School in Copnor could look. Picture from Noviun Architects

Cllr Fuller added: ‘It feels surreal standing here today and remembering my time here in the early 80s. The school will always have a special place in my heart and I look forward to seeing the new build which is fantastic for the city.’

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Plans revealed for new building that will replace Mayfield School in Portsmouth

The £22m construction will be the first ‘right through’ (reception to Year R to Year 11) purpose-built school in Portsmouth. Facilities will include new sports fields, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, maths) centre, performing arts hub, innovative laboratories and a two-storey dining area and cafe.

At the heart of the new build is David Timms, 52, who attended Mayfield between 1979 and 1984 and in his pre construction management role with the Kier Construction Group has played a leading role in designing the new school.

The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, David Fuller, with staff from Kier Construction and current and former pupils from Mayfield School. Picture: Sarah Standing

David said: ‘I was the first person from the company to come to the school. Going into reception was like stepping back in time – it looked exactly the same. It has been fantastic to lead the design process. Imagine having been a pupil at a school and then being given the opportunity to knock it down and build a new one.’

Despite initially facing opposition to the proposal, headteacher, David Jeapes, said the move to a new site is essential.

Mr Jeapes said: ‘It’s imperative we move. This is a 1930s building which simply can’t meet the demands of a 21st century curriculum. While this site has served the community well for the last 90 years it’s only right that we have a school building that does the same for the next 90.’

Taking part in the ceremony was a bitter sweet experience for former pupil Jane Tofts, 88, who attended the school in 1942 before being evacuated to Winchester during the Second World War.

An artist's impression of how the new entrance may look. Picture from Noviun Architects

Jane said: ‘I loved it here and think it’s sad it’s going to be knocked down. Hopefully the new school can serve generations of the future in the same way it served me.’

Sue Watson, who attended the school in the 1950s, added: ‘The building was divided into a boys and girls school back then and I have many happy memories. I had a very good education and hopefully the new school can provide the same.’

Staying true to the school’s past, designers have decided to keep the grand entrance as part of the grounds where it will be developed into an amphitheatre for drama productions.

Mr Jeapes said: ‘The school is about the people not the building. The spirit of Mayfield will live on and transcend any building.’

The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, David Fuller, with the youngest and oldest pupils at Mayfield School, Anais Reid, age 4, and Lawrence Cooper age 16, alongside former pupils (left to right) Kayleigh Reid, Alan Todd, Claire Waterfield, Jane Tofts, Claire Halsall and Sue Watson. Picture: Sarah Standing
The grand entrance into Mayfield School is to be incorporated into the new school grounds.
Pre construction manager, David Timms, used to attend Mayfield as a pupil and also played a leading role in the design of the new school. Picture: Sarah Standing (130220-5652)