New £8M sciences block at Oxford Spires Academy

The Oxford Times

PLANS for an £8.2m building at Oxford Spires Academy were unveiled last night.

The pupil academy wants to demolish its ageing science block and create a new building with science and art facilities.

Funding for the scheme is coming from a grant given to the school when it opened in January 2011 and a donation from the Reuben Foundation, the charitable arm of the Reuben Brothers real estate firm.

Principal Sue Croft said the old building on the site was falling apart and needed to be replaced.

She said: “It’s a very beautiful green site but it has had buildings there from the predecessor school which are old and past their sell-by date.

“We’re effectively going to be converting the business block and building a brand new science building with a new theatre to give students what they deserve.

“The new block will have a food technology room and an art gallery area along with a couple of other small rooms.”

The school was previously known as The Oxford School , and more recently Oxford Community School until it was instructed by the government to become an academy to improve falling results. A spokesman for London-based Nightingale Associates, which has designed the scheme, said: “The new building will accommodate the departments of science, IT and business enterprise, the sixth form and a new assembly space to seat 330 students.

“The proposal would be an appropriate celebration of recent academic improvement at the academy.

“It is important for staff and students to continue their progression and this proposal would serve as ideal motivation for all involved.” The application comes after the school was praised by Ofsted inspectors in April after its first inspection since becoming an academy in January 2011. Oxford city councillor Sajjad Malik, who represents the Cowley Marsh area for Labour, said he was pleased with the scheme.

He said: “I really welcome this and I think the school is really going in the right direction.

“Some of the buildings there are quite old, and unfortunately some of it has been neglected in the past few years.”

Mum Gill Jaggers, whose 14-year-old son Leo attends the school, said she was pleased the application had been put in.

She said: “There are some pretty old buildings in there, it’s all a bit hotch-potch.

“They have got the one new block which has the conference centre and the English and maths, which is great, but they’ve also got the old school building.

“To be able to get new buildings is a bonus and it does give people a boost and improves morale.”