Construction work begins on Watling Academy, the largest secondary school to be built in Milton Keynes.
In a ground-breaking ceremony this afternoon, the 10.88 hectare site was officially opened by Mayor of MK Cllr Sam Crooks, Cllr Zoe Nolan and representatives from Milton Keynes Council and Denbigh Alliance Multi-Academy Trust.
Located within the Whitehouse development, the Academy will sit at the heart of the community in the Western Expansion Area of Milton Keynes. The new secondary school will support pupils age 11 to 16 from Whitehouse and Fairfields and further afield. Building on the £40 million school development will take place over the next 18 months.
The 1,800 capacity school will consist of a large three-storey super block with separate sports facilities including playing fields, sports pitches and expansive car/cycle parking.
Watling Academy will open with Year 7 students only in 2020. Initially, these students will be based on the top floor of nearby Fairfields Primary before transferring to the new site in early 2021.
The decision to open a new school was based on the growing demand for secondary school places on the western flank of Milton Keynes. Approximately 6,600 new homes will be built in the Whitehouse and Fairfields region between 2016 and 2030.
Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: “We’re thrilled to be breaking ground today in what is a historic occasion for the region. Watling Academy is a key part of the council’s plan to provide high quality education for all children as our city expands. We are proud to be working with Denbigh Alliance to deliver the largest secondary school in Milton Keynes.”
Watling Academy will be part of the Denbigh Alliance Multi-Academy Trust which currently operates through Denbigh School; an 11-18 academy based approximately 1.5 miles from Watling Academy.
Andy Squires, CEO of Denbigh Alliance Multi-Academy Trust said: “We are all delighted at the Denbigh Alliance to have reached such a milestone, in not only the building of Watling Academy, but also the development of the Trust. We very much see this as crucial step in our Strategic Growth Plan.
Watling Academy will bring the highest quality of education and support for 1,800 students on the western flank of Milton Keynes extolling the ethos of the Denbigh Alliance Trust, namely ‘Education, Care and Opportunity’. Through these values we will be creating an exciting and vibrant new learning organisation at the heart of the community. This will give generations of young people the very best start in their secondary academic journey.”
Milton Keynes has experienced a sharp rise in demand for secondary school places since 2017. Milton Keynes Council has identified a need for at least three new secondary schools by 2025 to meet projected demand.