CHILDREN attending a city school will ‘finally get the facilities they deserve’ following a multimillion-pound investment, according to its principal.
Natalie Sheppard, principal at The Portsmouth Academy (TPA), said the school’s £5.3m cash injection will transform the lives of pupils following a difficult four-year journey to get standards back on track.
As previously reported, the move is part of Portsmouth City Council’s successful bid for cash from the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
At TPA, the money will be used to build a state-of-the-art three-storey building with music and art facilities, a drama studio, and provide 50 extra pupil spaces per year group.
Ms Sheppard, who was joined by Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for education Hannah Hockaday, to celebrate the news, said: ‘Four years ago the school was in special measures and was massively under-subscribed, there were a lot of challenges in trying to keep things going and it was tough on everybody.
‘But in four years we’ve turned that around and now we’re over-subscribed, with 240 first-choice preferences for next year.
‘A lot of our students are very creative but haven’t had the best facilities – our design and technology rooms haven’t been kitted out since the ’60s.
‘We want to give children who enjoy expression the best, so they can pursue their dreams and work in the creative industries if they want to.
‘Our pupils don’t always have opportunities to go to paid drama clubs or get singing lessons, so to be able to do those things in school could transform their life chances, and this is a turning point for us as a school.’
The existing school will benefit from additional science labs, a new design and technology classroom and a student services centre.
Work is due to start next Easter, ready for completion before the September 2020 pupil intake.
Cllr Hockaday said: ‘TPA offers an excellent education to increasing numbers of students – reflected in its latest Ofsted and GCSE success – and we’re delighted to be able fund its expansion.
‘This is the bricks and mortar part of our improvement and expansion plans, and aims to raise standards by improving learning environments.’