Together with investment from the County Council and developer contributions, the funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will help meet the £29.84 million budget to build the new school facility. It will be constructed on a new campus in Budds Lane, on land currently owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Councillor Peter Edgar, Executive Member for Education at Hampshire County Council, commented: “With funding from the ESFA now guaranteed, and for which we are grateful, I am very pleased that we can now progress with building the new school, and ensure that secondary age pupils in the area can continue to be educated locally, in a quality learning environment.
“A successful school is an essential element of a thriving community, and is a huge factor in economic prosperity. Construction of the new school facility will ensure that young people will be able to go to a secondary school near to where they live, that offers exceptional educational, recreational and community amenities. This is unlikely to have been achieved without the County Council’s contribution to the Whitehill and Bordon partnership and its close working with the Academy, and its sponsors, the University of Chichester Academies Trust, and the MoD.”
In November last year, Hampshire County Council’s Leader, Councillor Roy Perry, approved proposals for the County Council to enter negotiations to acquire the land needed, secure additional funding and dispose of the former school to enable a new academy school facility to be built for 2019. Councillor Perry also approved a £10 million investment by the County Council towards cost of building the new school facility, close to the town centre. The balance of funding will come from contributions from the Whitehill and Bordon Regeneration Company, Homes and Communities Agency, East Hampshire District Council, as well as that from the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
Commenting further, Councillor Edgar said: “Our commitment to the delivery of new school buildings is a further example of the key and active role of the County Council in the regeneration of Whitehill and Bordon. This commitment includes providing the essential infrastructure needed for the new town.
“We have worked closely, every step of the way, with our partners at the MoD, Homes and Communities Agency, Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership and East Hampshire District Council, and this will continue. The investment in the new facilities for the Mill Chase Academy will reinforce the recent positive judgement by Ofsted, in October 2016, that the school is ‘good in all areas’. The new facilities will be supplemented with extensions to the Bordon Infant and Junior schools and, in the future, the creation of a new primary school as the town’s population grows.
“Hampshire County Council’s significant scale, capacity, experience and expertise to deliver high quality education and infrastructure facilities for Hampshire’s communities, makes us one of the few public bodies able to make projects like this happen.”
Mill Chase Academy is recognised by Ofsted as a good school with ‘an ethos of high expectations and aspiration which is central to the life of the school’ and ‘teachers who are passionate about doing the best for their pupils’ and ‘pupils make increasingly good progress’ The number of applications to the school is currently growing.
Sue Samson, Chief Executive of the University of Chichester Academy Trust, which runs the school, commented: “Ofsted recognised the high quality of teaching and leadership in the school, The opportunity for this school to move into state of the art facilities is also an important part of the regeneration of the Whitehill and Bordon community, and is no more than the pupils and staff in this wonderful school deserve.”
Headteacher, Paul Hemmings, said he was delighted by the progress that had been made. He added: “This will be a great chance for our students to enjoy an exciting new learning environment. Ofsted has recognised that students are making increasingly good progress across a wide range of subjects. The new buildings will enable us to provide them with a high quality learning environment which will further support the high standard of education they enjoy.”
In addition to the proposed development of the new facilities for the Mill Chase Academy, the wider Whitehill and Bordon Partnership has recently facilitated the first phase of the A325 relief road around Whitehill and Bordon, and is investing in the construction of the second phase of the A325 relief road, due to open in the spring 2018. This is alongside the new Future Skills Centre for the town, which opened earlier this month.
Mill Chase Academy is to be relocated to the new buildings from its existing site on the eastern edge of the town, where it is currently located in buildings which, due to their age, design and layout, are beginning to deteriorate, and are in need of extensive refurbishment or replacement.
With planning permission granted in June of this year, construction of the new school buildings will begin in early 2018. Completion is due in summer 2019 to allow the Mill Chase Academy to move to its new home in time for the start of that year’s autumn term.