THE new school at Bemahague, in Onchan, will be much more than just a replacement for the Park Road site in Douglas.
Department of Education and Children estates director Richard Collister said work was about half way through on the £33.8m scheme and was on schedule for opening in September 2012.
The school can be seen rising out of the ground from the TT course between Signpost Corner and Governor’s Bridge.
Its main road access will be via Hillberry Road but it is hoped improved pedestrian access such as a footbridge linking the school to the Governor’s Hill estate means students will walk.
As well as accommodating year seven and eight students (ages 11 to 13) from St Ninian’s High School’s lower school site in Park Road, year nine (13 and 14) students. from St Ninian’s Ballaquayle Road site, will move to Bemahague.
Mr Collister said: ‘It will be a fantastic facility, a significant improvement over the accommodation and facilities we have down at the Park Road site.
‘There has been a key focus on not only providing really good facilities for the school but also good sports facilities for the community.
‘The additional funding we secured through Tynwald about a year ago in terms of enlarging the sports facilities and creating an eight court sports hall and improved changing facilities will ensure we have a fantastic facility.’
The most progress has been made on a classroom block for science, art and craft, design and technology.
And the assembly hall, special needs unit with hydrotherapy pool, lecture theatre, and a full cooking kitchen and dining facilities including an outside paved area are all taking shape.
Mr Collister said work was ‘progressing well’, with some of the blocks having been waterproofed and undergoing their first mechanical and electrical fix.
Underfloor heating is largely in place. Once the buildings have had a second mechanical and electrical fix, fixed furniture and equipment will be installed.
‘I am confident we will have the school operational for September 2012,’ he said.
Sports facilities will include two football pitches, a cricket pitch and a 300m running track in the oval below the school, an all-weather pitch, six tennis courts, and a rugby/football pitch.
The sports hall, enlarged from the original plan from six to eight badminton courts, will have direct access for community use.
When asked whether the scheme was good value for money, Mr Collister said: ‘Most definitely. This is not a short term move by the department. This will be here hopefully for another century and so it will benefit untold thousands of children and people within the community.’
Bemahague will have a capacity for 800 students but as the school roll grows it will be possible to expand to accommodate a total of 1,300 students.
The last high school to be built was Queen Elizabeth II High School, in Peel, which opened in July 1979.
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