PUPILS have had their first lessons at a new £8.2m business centre that has opened at Oxford Spires Academy.
The Reuben Business and Science Faculty Building contains ten new science labs, ICT suites, a sixth-form centre and lecture theatre that can hold up to 330 people.
It has taken three years to construct and the building, at the site of the academy in Glanville Road, was opened to students yesterday, with lessons kicking off for the first time.
Headteacher Sue Croft said: “We want all of our students to aspire to be the best they can.
“This new building can only help them to achieve that.
“We hope there will be a change in people’s view of the school as well and it will become more comprehensive.
“At the moment we take a significant amount of pupils with lower level achievement, but our results are improving.
“As we become more popular, there will be a rebalance as people from all backgrounds will be attracted to us.”
Oxford Spires Academy opened in 2011 to replace struggling Oxford School.
It was rated good in all areas in its first full inspection in July.
In this summer’s GCSEs, those getting five A*s to C, including maths and English, fell from 57 per cent to 49 per cent. However, the head said she hoped to raise this to 80 per cent in the long-term.
The work at the new centre has seen almost £1.5m invested in new computer equipment.
There is also a roof terrace which overlooks Oxford and, on a clear day, all its spires can be seen.
Science students will have controlled access to the terrace for experiments.
Work on the building, a remodelling of a 1960s block, started last November.
Mrs Croft said: “It is amazing.
“We could see the shape of it coming along as it was being built, but there is nothing quite like walking through the doors and stepping in on Monday.
“It was so emotional.”
The centre has been named after billionaire David Reuben, who owns Oxford Airport.
The Reuben Foundation, the charitable arm of his business, run with his brother Simon, donated a significant, undisclosed, sum to the academy.
The building will be officially opened by Lord Krebbs on Monday.
The Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Tim Stephenson, Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, Mayor Dee Sinclair and leader of Oxford City Council Bob Price will all be in attendance.
The project was funded with Government finance whenthe school relaunched as an academy.