Stevenage head hails advantage of school on split sites

Headteacher Tony Fitzpatrick at the newly named Barnwell Middle School in Stevenage

Headteacher Tony Fitzpatrick at the newly named Barnwell Middle School in Stevenage - Credit: Archant

The headteacher of a school which is split into two campuses has described the different set-up as “an advantage”.

The start of term last month saw Year 7, 8 and 9 students at Barnwell School move to a ‘middle school’ campus in Shephall Green, Stevenage.

Classrooms, communal areas and toilets on the site – where Heathcote School was situated prior to its closure in 2012 – have been refurbished with further building works which include a new humanities and ICT centre expected to be completed in December.

The move means the original Barnwell School site now stands empty, but Year 10, 11 and sixth form students – currently based at the former Collenswood School site in Collenswood Road – will be moving there in September 2014 to form an ‘upper school’ campus adjacent to the middle school.

The £6 million project will also see a new sixth form centre built, as well as dance, drama and music facilities.

Headteacher Tony Fitzpatrick, who joined Barnwell in 2001 and was appointed the role on a permanent basis in November 2012, gave the Comet a tour of the middle school site and spoke about what the move means.

“It’s a new start and a new challenge for the school,” he said.

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“It’s taken lots of planning but we’re now living what we’ve called ‘Future Barnwell’ for the last two or three years. It’s been a long process but it’s worked and the most important thing for us was not to have any disruption to students’ learning.

“There’s a perception that we’re a ‘super school’ but we’re not. There’s 1300 Barnwell students but 750 are on this site, which is less than most schools have. Although there’s two campuses it’s very much a team effort and I feel that came through on our recent open evening.

“The feedback we get from parents is they really like the thought of having younger students on one site and older students on another. It means there’s a level of responsibility on students in Year 9 and then they can step up to the challenge again when they move on.

“It does make us different to other schools and I think that’s an advantage.”

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