A Long Time Coming...
but Worth the Wait
It started out as a dream to build a new secondary school to help to fill the gap for students from 11 years old upwards in and around our area. Now, a few years on, after various episodes of controversy which have dogged it since the start, The Katherine Warington School is finally operational and welcomes around 180 11 - 12 year old pupils through its doors every school day, about 25% of which are from Wheathampstead and Kimpton. A long time coming? Maybe, but from what we saw, definitely worth the wait.
During the planning and early building stages people were informed that, initially, the builders would construct a sports hall where temporary classrooms would be set up to host the first round of year 7 school children who would then move on to the main school building when completed the following year. For many, I’m sure, this conjured up visions of a cavernous sports hall subdivided into make –shift classrooms with sub standard or at least temporary equipment.
That couldn’t be further from the truth as Wheathampstead Magazine discovered when we met up with the new Head Teacher, Tony Smith, who proudly offered a tour of the current school.
The entrance, halls and walkways are all bright and welcoming as are the staff members on reception. It’s clear that lots of care and thought has been devoted to the internal design and layout of the building, not least the toilets with open plan unisex hand washing facilities designed to ensure no dark corners.
It seemed obvious from the start that this would be a hi-tech learning facility, albeit sited initially in the building that would become a sports hall. All the classrooms I saw were proper, solid classrooms with state of the art interactive boards instead of black boards which worked with wireless links to chrome books supplied to each pupil. There are classrooms for science as well as music labs and a state of the art dining room where pupils choose their lunch from a full menu using a fingerprint recognition system against a pre-loaded budget account to purchase what they like.
A house system has already been set up with 30 students in each House from each year group. The first year pupils have chosen an impressive array of names for those houses based on notable characters as follow:
Work still continues on the main school, which is on track to be completed in the summer 2020 and, along with the conversion of the sports hall, is scheduled for completion and occupancy in early September, when the existing year 7 pupils will move up to year 8 and the new intake of year 7’s will be welcomed .
The new building will house 68 classrooms, 9 state of the art science labs, each with 70 inch interactive Promethean screens, as well as Music labs with Apple keyboards and various music software. There will be multi-use games areas, a sports track, 5 football pitches, and two 2 rugby pitches, with a cricket strip in between; and of course the sports hall will accommodate a range of indoor sports.
Getting to school, as ever, will be achieved by having various modes of transport, including free buses in some cases. Children will be encouraged to walk the last 5 minutes of the journey to and from school.
Head Teacher Tony Smith said, “Opportunities like this don’t come along very often and I feel immensely privileged to have been given the authority and a large degree of freedom to work towards all that we have achieved.”
When I think back to my old school I must admit that it wasn’t bad, but it seems to me that both the current pupils and the ones to come are very lucky to have all this on their door step.