Welcome to the college with the WOW! factor.
It’s been a long time coming but after four years of development, planning and building staff and pupils have finally moved into the new multi-million pound All Saints Catholic College in Huddersfield.
The three-storey site, clean, crisp and clinically academic, represents a definitive 21st century alternative to the tired buildings that have graced the site for more than 50 years.
And as preparations are made to bulldoze the old school – formed in the dim and distant 1970s from the amalgamation of St Gregory’s and St Augustine’s – so principal Anita Bodurka and her team have embraced a bright new beginning.
“As you can imagine my feet haven’t touched the ground,” said Miss Bodurka, who is embarking on her eighth year as principal.
“It’s very early days but so far it’s all good. There have been a lot of wide-eyed children. It feels like it has been a long time coming but it’s picked up momentum and feels like a new beginning.”
All Saints was one of a batch of seven schools – another was Whitcliffe Mount in Cleckheaton – that received funding from the Education Funding Agency to evolve and develop themselves. The route to the new build began in 2013 after a condition survey revealed the cost of refurbishing the existing site was prohibitive.
With the backing of the Diocese of Leeds, Kirklees Council put in a bid for a new building, which was approved. The resultant three-storey college boasts 55 classrooms, library, chapel, sports hall, dining hall, drama/dance/fitness studio and an inclusion centre for pupils needing extra support.
Currently it has 720 pupils aged 11-16. At capacity the number will climb to 900. Students are taken from nine Catholic primary feeder schools in Huddersfield and Halifax.
The college’s three floors are divided into Body, Soul and Mind.
Body (ground floor) covers aesthetic subjects such as art, design/technology, food and sports, plus the library and chapel.
Soul (first floor) incorporates RE, English, and modern languages (French and Spanish).
Mind (second floor) features humanities: science, maths, history and geography.
“All Saints was originally designed as two separate schools. It was later joined up, However we didn’t have a sports centre. Instead we had two old gyms.
“This new build is more compact than the old school. It has provided us with brand new designed classrooms but also a fantastic sports hall. Previously design and technology were in an outcrop of the building. They are now suited here in the new building. Music and drama were not together. Now we have a fit-for-purpose drama studio. There is still work to be done but there is definitely a wow factor about it.”
The old All Saints is earmarked for demolition followed by landscaping. The area will also host a car park and, crucially, a multi-use games area including tennis courts.
Miss Bodurka was mindful of the school’s legacy and so open mornings were held in order that former pupils could walk its corridors and wallow in nostalgia one last time.
“It’s a new beginning,” she said. “It’s part of an ongoing journey – a faith journey as well as an educational one.
“The staff have been fantastic. The de-camp was a large task but they have really supported me through the packing, the unpacking, preparations for the children coming through the doors and the new academic year.
“We have also had help from the governors, Kirklees Council, and the Diocese of Leeds.”
Miss Bodurka hopes the new beginning will translate to an “outstanding” OFSTED report next year.
“The last inspection took place in June whilst the school was full of crates! It did not faze us. We just got on with it. We were thrilled with the report. There’s only one way for us now and that is to move towards outstanding.
“That would mean that pupils would get outstanding results and that is what we want for them.”
The new All Saints Catholic College will be officially opened on October 5 by the Rt Revd Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds.