Headteacher of Etonbury Academy in Arlesey aims to give school wow factor

Alex Prior Headteacher at Etonbury Academy

Alex Prior Headteacher at Etonbury Academy - Credit: Archant

A new headteacher believes expansion plans will give his school the wow factor.

Alex Prior, who started his tenure at Etonbury Academy in Arlesey earlier this month, joins at a time when the school is looking to more than double its pupil intake by building a three-storey teaching block extension.

Currently the middle school in Stotfold Road caters for Year 5-8 students under the three-tiered Bedfordshire system, but if the expansion is approved would see numbers increase from 480 to 900 to include Year 9, 10 and 11 as well.

Mr Prior, who has taken over from Dr Al Mistrano, said: “It is hugely exciting to be joining at a time when the school is set to be expanding, which would be the most significant improvement to the school in 60 years.

“The expansion to double the school in size is absolutely essential as it goes hand in hand with the population growth. If approved, work will start in November 2016 and we hope to be fully functional in September 2016.

“This is a community school at the heart of the wider community in the town. I want to carry on with the core values that my predecessor instilled in the school, but provide the school with the best resources which will give it the wow factor.

“What is really exciting is the fact that we are offering Key Stage 4 education to make sure that our students stay put, and take up their GCSEs here rather than going onto somewhere like the Samuel Whitbread Academy. It will be great to cater for nine to 16 year olds – we want the school to play a positive part in our students’ upbringing and help them to reach their true potential. It is also my mission to get Etonbury an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating.”

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A supporting document to the application states that the intention to cater for more students at Etonbury is “to ensure there are sufficient local pupil places in Stotfold and Arlesey for the growing population”.

Under the plans, a car park with 95 places would be built to remedy a parking space shortage which, according to the report, has resulted in “staff resorting to double parking” and “blocking the entrance to the kitchen for service vehicles”. The amount of bike spaces would be doubled from 200 to 400.

A consultation on the expansion plans, which includes a three-storey teaching block extension, a new fitness centre and an all-weather pitch, opened in early August and ends on October 8.

To view the school’s plans search for ‘Arlesey’ on www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/planning/planning-applications.

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