Oakmoor School is a brand new, state of the art secondary school sponsored by the University of Chichester and is situated in an amazing 22 acre tree lined site on the edge of the South Downs National Park. The school has been built on land that used to be owned by the Ministry of Defence and it was fitting that it opened its doors to students on November 11th Armistice Day, a day of remembrance of what had gone before but also a day of new opportunity looking to the future.
On the first day the Headteacher Mr Paul Hemmings and his staff were joined by members of the Hampshire County Council Architects team who had designed the school and Mr Ian Parker who has been working on the Whitehill and Bordon Regeneration programme since its inception and was responsible for the master planning and negotiating the funding for the new school, to welcome the students to their wonderful new learning environment.
Headteacher, Mr Hemmings said, “As a vibrant and exciting secondary school we provide excellent education for the young people of our town. However, we are also an important bridge between primary school and adult life. As such, our strong links with the University of Chichester have influenced some design choices to ensure that the education setting matches this important role we play. I am so impressed with how our students have embraced their new home and are behaving, as ever, with maturity and pride.”
The excitement on the faces of the students was a joy to behold as they brought life to this amazing building. The students arrived wearing their new uniform with pride, and have settled well into their new learning environment. The school is calm and purposeful with everyone totally engaged in their learning although there is a buzz of excitement throughout the building as the students familiarise themselves with their new environment.
The main buildings surround a central court yard which includes covered areas for outside dining accessible from the dining hall and seating areas accessible from the learning resource centre for reading at break and lunch times. Students are using all the shared spaces to enjoy each others’ company with grown up maturity.
Chief Executive Officer of The University of Chichester Academy Trust, Ms Sue Samson said, “It has been a real privilege to have worked with the team designing and building this wonderful new school. After years of planning and development it was very special to see the staff and students working so enthusiastically and purposefully in their new learning environment last week. Oakmoor School will provide a centre for ambition and excellence supporting their students to have the courage and confidence to be the best they can be.”
There is an abundance of green spaces which include several sports pitches, an athletics track, a nurture garden and a forest school area for outside learning and activities. The whole site is bordered by mature trees providing a relaxing and inspirational backdrop to the learning environment.
Head of PE, Mr Beere said, “We are all absolutely thrilled with the outstanding sports facilities that we have. The Sports Hall, Dance Studio (complete with ballet mirrors and bar), Astro turf, MUGA (Multi Use Games Area), extensive grass pitches and wonderful changing facilities are all first class and will be enjoyed by our students for generations to come. They will also provide the local community with an extensive range of sporting opportunities that support participation and competition. This in turn will have a greater impact upon how we are all able to lead healthy active lifestyles within our town.
“On Tuesday 12th November we got off to an incredible start in what was our first ever fixture as Oakmoor. In the last five minutes of the game the Year 11 boys football team fought hard to come back from being behind, to draw level and then go on to score a last minute winner, making it 4-3 against an outstanding All Hallows’ team. Congratulations to all involved in a game that will go down in Oakmoor sporting history.”
The school has cutting edge technology throughout the site and the latest specialist equipment for key areas such as science, technology and performing arts which will ensure that the students are equipped for life in the 21st Century.
The new Learning Resource Centre(LRC) is truly at the heart of the school, situated on the ground floor of the North building, facing the inner courtyard. The space is beautifully designed and has a light and airy feel, boosted by superb environmental control, large panoramic windows on three sides, and a seamless and welcoming walk-through from the North Building entrance hall. There is plenty of seating, both table-based and elegantly casual, together with a self-contained mini-classroom.
The combined effect creates the feel of being in a college or university, rather than a school, library.
Learning Resource Centre Manager, Mr Dominic Carney said, “With staff and students, we will be exploring how best to organise and refine the use of these tremendous library resources over the coming weeks and months, but it is already clear from our pupils’ delighted reactions that it will be a valuable asset for years to come, enabling them to lay their plans, build their ambitions and dream their dreams.”
Deputy Headteacher, Mrs Moral concluded, “The amazing and inspirational buildings and facilities that Oakmoor School offer our children will enhance the teaching and learning opportunities available to them. It has been a pleasure to observe the students and staff thoroughly engaging with the state of the art facilities during our first week at Oakmoor School. The students have completed the transition with a mature and responsible manner, and all look incredibly grown up in their smart professional uniform.
“We are excited about continuing to build on our ethos of Ambition, Courage and Excellence and to grow our caring and supportive Oakmoor family. From my observations in the first week, it is clear that we have transferred these important elements of our school ethos.”