STAFF and pupils at Highworth Warneford are celebrating after the Government awarded the school just over £1.8million for a new sports centre.

After rejecting the original application in April, the Education Funding Agency has now awarded the grant to fund the centre, which will be built on part of the school playing field and will include a four court sports hall.

It is hoped the centre will be finished by this time next year, and it will mean the school’s 910 students no longer have to cross busy roads to get to Highworth Rec for their PE lessons.
The centre will also be open to the public at weekends, school holidays and evenings, when the school is not using it.

Headteacher, John Saunders, said: “It is excellent news, we are absolutely delighted. We have been hoping for and wanting a sports hall probably for the last 10 years, because what we do at the moment is use the facilities at Highworth Rec –which are very good facilities but the children have to walk along a busy road to get to them, which is a concern for us.

“Having facilities on site will be absolutely brilliant and improve the quality of education we can give to children.”

Planning permission was granted for the centre before the initial application for funding was submitted earlier this year.

The school will now implement the tendering process, and it is hoped building will start towards the end of the summer.

The decision comes after the school appealed a rejection for funding from the Government in April.

Mr Saunders, who has been headteacher since 1995, said: “We were a bit disappointed when the application was rejected, but we got feedback and we knew it was a strong bid, so we thought it was worth appealing.

“This money is magnificent news for the school. The children will benefit so much for having a sports hall on site. It will improve their experience of PE and will provide good facilities for the community.”

The bid was put together by the school’s business manager, Malcolm Holbrook.

North Swindon MP, Justin Tomlinson, who helped the school to get the funding, said: “This was incredibly important for the children of Highworth and the surrounding areas, because firstly it will be a fantastic state of the art facility for use of both the school and the local community.

“Secondly, it has been a long standing problem for the children to have to cross several busy roads to use the Highworth Rec, which is both dangerous and with the great British weather potentially all too often leads to a soaking. This is a real boost to the school and the community.”