The headteacher of the Coleshill School has hailed the opening of a state-of-the-art new teaching block as ‘the next step in the journey of a united learning community’ in the town.
Ian Smith-Childs said the new facilities at the school – which is part of the Sutton-based Arthur Terry Learning Partnership – not only provided extra space for students returning after lockdown – it would also ‘future proof’ the school by ensuring it had the capacity to educate growing numbers of Warwickshire students in the years ahead.
Students are now using the new Wilson Block, which was named after a much-loved former headteacher and opened on September 1st during the school’s 500th anniversary.
“The Wilson Block is more than just a teaching block,” Mr Smith-Childs said, “It is the next step in the journey of a united learning community. There has been a secondary school in Coleshill since 1520, existing in many forms.
“The block is named after one of its greatest headteachers; Tom Wilson. Tom was a hero of World War Two and is a hero of the Coleshill community. I would like to think that Tom would have been proud to see the Wilson Block complete.”
A new outdoor plaza connected to the block has significantly increased the space for students, with benches set to be added soon, while a new café will be used by Year 11 students and Sixth Formers in the years ahead, giving older students their own social space.
“Students have been very impressed with the new facilities and have settled straight into learning,” Mr Smith-Childs said, “The new facilities have helped students to take a business-like approach to the restart to school.”
The block was given the go-ahead by Warwickshire County Council in response to a rapid period of growth at Coleshill, which saw numbers of students increase from 740 in 2014 to 1200 in 2020. The new Wilson Block increases capacity to around 1300 at the school.
“The building opened in the year we celebrate the 500th year of the school’s existence, so it seems apt that we are now able to grow with the facilities needed,” Mr Smith-Childs said. “It has been a long journey but we are very grateful for all involved in the construction and at Warwickshire County Council.”
Tom Wilson, who died in December 2018, was headteacher at Coleshill Grammar School from 1956 to 1982. A former RAF officer, during World War Two he was involved in a daring escape from a German prison camp, which was made famous by the movie The Wooden Horse. Mr Wilson played his violin to mask the sounds of his comrades as they dug an escape tunnel.
After years of planning, work on the block began in earnest last October, with the arrival of a crane on site followed by lorries delivering the 38 units which would make up the new building.
In a report released during lockdown, Ofsted inspectors praised how Coleshill students had coped with the construction work, and the restrictions it had placed on social space.