£1.7m sports centre will benefit all Portsmouth schools

HIGH ACHIEVER Josh Waldron, 11, on the climbing wall.  Picture: Paul Jacobs (120931-6)
HIGH ACHIEVER Josh Waldron, 11, on the climbing wall. Picture: Paul Jacobs (120931-6)

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PUPILS are gearing up to take on rowers throughout the world – from the comfort of their new sports hall.

The rowing machines, that can connect to other machines globally via an online programme, are part of Harbour School’s new sports centre which officially opened last night.

The £1.78m centre, in Tipner Lane, Tipner, also features a large climbing wall – the first of its kind to be installed in a school in the city.

It means the school can now add rock climbing to its GCSE PE curriculum, as can all other schools in the area, which can now use the new facilities.

A large sports hall, side rooms, fitness suite, dance and drama studio, and informal working area also feature.

Sally Garrett, the school’s headteacher, said: ‘Staff and students are all very excited about it, and everyone’s thrilled that it’s open now after around four years of planning.

‘Sport has always been a subject that our students particularly enjoy, but there has been a noticeable increase in interest as we built up to opening the facility.

‘It will benefit the students immensely by helping to improve their health and fitness, and making the subject fun – which is what school’s all about in my eyes.’

The main hall is decorated with graphics designed by pupils, which have been printed onto the hall’s sound proofing panels on the walls.

In celebration of its opening, the school held numerous activities in the centre yesterday from graffiti art to Zumba.

And to officially open the facility an event was held last night for staff and representatives of the city.

The city’s Lord Mayor Cheryl Buggy, director of children’s services Julian Wooster, and local author Graham Hurley, all attended.

Teacher David MacAskill said: ‘The kids have gone from having a bog-standard playground to having this amazing new facility. It will make such a big difference to them. They’ve already tried out some of the equipment and they just love it, especially the concept rowers.’