High-tech primary school unveiled in Smethwick
Sandwell Council has welcomed the completion of the new Shireland Technology Primary School in Waterloo Road, Smethwick, which opens to pupils this week.
Funded through the government’s free school capital programme, the £7m school provides a high-tech learning environment for pupils, which feeds into into the adjacent Shireland Collegiate Academy, taking pupils from nursery through to post-16 education.
Lady Kirsty Grundy, principal at Smethwick Technology Primary, said: “We are so proud to finally have the most phenomenal school building for the children and families of Smethwick and Bearwood. Our aim is to blend the best of tradition and academic rigour with state-of-the-art technology and digital skills, manifested in a truly impressive, purpose-built school for staff and children to excel in.
“We sincerely thank Speller Metcalfe and Sandwell for their support in helping us build a school for the future and future generations.”
Despite the impact of COVID-19 which led to construction of the school being put on hold, following the publication of government construction guidance, the council was pleased that contractor Speller Metcalfe immediately pulled together a recovery plan to ensure it could re-start the school building within two weeks.
The plan ensured the school completed on time to open for September, with Speller Metcalfe handing over the school two weeks ahead of its original planned date.
Rob Lashford, regional director at Speller Metcalfe, said: “We are delighted to be able to hand over Shireland Technology Primary School two weeks ahead of schedule, particularly in light of the challenges faced by COVID-19.
“At the start of lockdown, we temporarily paused all of our site operations to ensure we could individually risk assess each project and put enhanced safety measures in place, giving our workforce the confidence that they could return to work in a safe environment. Each sub-contractor truly bought into working within these new parameters – which at times were very challenging – but overall their positive attitude and the successful management by the Speller Metcalfe team enabled an early and successful handover of the school.”
Richard Bailey, architect from Corstorphine + Wright who designed the new Shireland Technology Primary, said: “We’re very pleased with the completed school. It was an interesting project on a challenging site which has led to some innovative design solutions, including the rooftop playground.
“The success of this project is the result of great teamwork between the design team, Speller Metcalfe and, most importantly, an enthusiastic, driven and engaged client team. It has been a pleasure to work on Shireland Technology Primary School and we wish Lady Grundy and all the staff a successful opening and start to term.”
Shireland Technology will operate as a mainstream primary school, specialising in Information Technology for 420 children aged 5-11, and operate a 26 place nursery.
Councillor Joyce Underhill, cabinet member for best start in life, is thrilled with the new school. She said: “I last visited the school almost 12 months ago so it is so great to see the building finished and ready for pupils for the new term.
“Our partners have worked wonders with getting the building ready, despite the challenges we have all faced this year. Thank you to everyone involved in this project and I know Shireland Technology Primary is a real asset to our family of primary schools in Sandwell.”
The new school provides a number of innovative design features including a rooftop play area and an Immersive Room, where children can experience different worlds and times through surround projection.
The primary school joins a group of new and existing schools sponsored by the Collegiate Academy Trust, including Shireland Collegiate Academy, rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and the newly-opened West Bromwich Collegiate Academy.