Stevenage school building described as best in the country

Donna Saville, 12, Karine Jarrett, 13, Charlie Cole, 12, Lonsdale school head Maria White, Brandon S

Donna Saville, 12, Karine Jarrett, 13, Charlie Cole, 12, Lonsdale school head Maria White, Brandon Shambrook, 16, Marriotts school head Geraint Edwards, Martin Russell-Rogers, 14, and Alex Lindsay, 16 - Credit: Archant

A BUILDING which will be used by almost 1,700 pupils across two schools has been described as the best in the country.

The dining area at Marriotts

The dining area at Marriotts - Credit: Archant

The headteachers of Stevenage schools Marriotts and Lonsdale have spoken to the Comet after the completion of a £43m project saw them come together under one roof.

Lonsdale's hydro pool

Lonsdale's hydro pool - Credit: Archant

Marriotts Lonsdale School in Brittain Way opened its doors for the first time earlier this month, catering for 1,600 Marriotts students and up to 84 pupils at special needs school Lonsdale.

Marriotts acting head Geraint Edwards said the building is a world away in terms of facilities when compared to the old school in Telford Avenue, which backs on to the current site and will be turned into parking.

Combining open plan learning areas and classrooms, the school’s facilities include 900 desktop computers and two multi-use games areas.

“The old building was a typical 1950s/60s build and it certainly wasn’t fit for purpose and didn’t have the facilities for 21st century education,” Mr Edwards told the Comet.

“Now the school has been transformed with what I think is probably the best building in the country at this present time.”

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Lonsdale head Maria White has been working at the school for 14 years and has seen the build progress from the very beginning.

Mrs White said she fought hard to ensure students had everything they need following the move from the school’s Webb Rise site, with a bigger hydro pool, separate hall and dining area, and specialist equipment all in place.

“It’s fantastic, the building is absolutely incredible and has everything we need to deliver a good education to the children,” she said.

“It’s much bigger than what we had before. Moving the kids around is much easier as the corridors and doors are wider for the wheelchairs to move through.

“We’re able to deliver a quality education for the next 50 years, it’s not just an investment for now but a long-term investment for the future.”

Mr Edwards said Marriotts, after being given a notice to improve by Ofsted in February 2012, was “moving in the right direction”.

The acting head replaced Patrick Marshall and will apply for the permanent position when his temporary contract ends in July.

He said: “It’s about changing the reputation of the school. What I want to hear in Stevenage is parents saying they couldn’t get their child into Marriotts. We’re not there yet but with the new school expectations have risen.”

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