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New Building Grand Opening

Backwell School officially opened its brand new facilities with the help of Professor David Olusoga.

Backwell School was delighted to have their brand new building opened on Friday 9 July by Professor David Olusoga.

The building, which has been built over the past 18 months, contains a new four court sports hall, fitness suite, three state of the art Science laboratories and two bright and spacious classrooms.

The school was honoured to be joined by Professor Olusoga, who officially opened the new building. The event, smaller than hoped due to COVID-19 restrictions, was also attended by key contacts from the Department for Education, Collinson and the School’s community.

Prior to the opening a select group of students (those studying A level History, or on the school’s equality or anti-racism groups) were invited to attend a question and answer session with Professor Olusoga.

Questions were wide ranging including what, if anything, should replace the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol City Centre, should countries apologise for previous historical actions or events and what advice would give you a young person looking to study history at university.  Professor Olusoga was open, honest and thought provoking during this session. His thoughts on encouraging inclusion and diversity were particularly poignant for a school setting.

Following the Q&A we then moved to the official opening itself. Selected students from Year 8 and Year 10 were in attendance to represent the student body as Professor Olusoga cut the ribbon. A plaque was also revealed on the building itself to commemorate the ceremony.

Mr Jon Nunes, Headteacher was delighted David was involved: “David represents many of the qualities that Backwell School aspires to on behalf of our pupils. His academic work – some of which features in the Backwell school curriculum – has been widely praised and his involvement in different media, including television, has done a great deal to bring challenging ideas and knowledge to a wider audience. I know that the students and staff at Backwell School feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak to him.”

Students will begin using the fantastic new facilities from September 2021, with Science, PE and Business and Economics moving into their new teaching spaces.

The building was constructed by Collinson Construction who managed the project incredibly well, despite the challenges and the logistics of building such a large structure on a fully functioning school site. This large project was founded on funding from the Department of Education (DfE) as part of their  Priority Schools Building Programme (PSPB2) which identified schools needing money to carry out essential maintenance and repairs of old buildings.  Backwell School are extremely grateful for the support from the DfE on this project, especially in the constructive way they worked with the school to alter and extend the project to further improve provision at Backwell. Backwell School’s Trust, the Lighthouse Schools Partnership, were also instrumental in this process; not only did the LSP play a huge role in the management of the project, they also contributed additional funding to allow us to upgrade all our temporary buildings, not just the Science labs that were identified in the original scheme.

The Year 8 and 10 students were given a quick tour of the new building and they were totally blown away: “incredibly, “amazing” and “it doesn’t feel real” were how they described it. Many of them have had lessons in the older huts that are being replaced which are often “too hot or too cold and falling apart”. They were all very excited to be timetabled into these new rooms.

Professor Olusoga was also very impressed with the new facilities “the new building transforms the environment in which Backwell students can learn.  They’re leaving behind classrooms intended for people of my generation and are stepping into a properly 21st century space. Having had the pleasure of meeting some of the young people at Backwell, I’m sure they’ll make the most of what’s on offer.”