After years of planning and preparation, the long-awaited opening of Rugby’s new Houlton School has arrived, with staff welcoming the secondary school’s very first Year 7 pupils on Wednesday, September 8.
Located in the Grade II listed former Rugby Radio Station, the 11-18 academy is positioned in the heart of Urban&Civic’s new residential development at Houlton.
Set on a £39 million, 20-acre campus, Houlton School has been delivered through a partnership between the developers at Houlton, Urban&Civic and the Department for Education.
Despite the unforeseen restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the team behind Houlton School have pulled out all the stops to stay on track for the opening.
In an incredible transformation, the historic Rugby Radio Station has now become the heart of the school.
The site also boasts purpose-built Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Humanities buildings, as well as a Sport England Compliant Sports Centre that will be available for community use.
There is also a professional grade radio studio that will broadcast from the site, honouring the campus' heritage as a global centre for communication.
180 lucky Year 7 pupils have joined Houlton School this September and the community will then grow slowly, year-on-year, until reaching its full capacity across all year groups.
Michael McCulley, principal at Houlton School, said: “For our pupils, their parents and all of our staff, the chance to be part of the very first cohort at our brand-new school is something that is so special - we are certainly making history today.
“As a new school, we have had the great privilege of building our community from scratch. We have taken so much inspiration from the iconic heritage and stunning architecture of our location, and have developed a campus featuring state-of-the-art facilities that will provide so many world class opportunities for our pupils.
“We are also incredibly proud to offer a curriculum that has been created around the needs of our pupils, with additional pastoral and wellbeing support provided in response to the pandemic and a commitment to tailoring our approach to provide the very best for our families.
“It has been absolutely wonderful to see everyone’s smiling faces today. Our pupils have so much to look forward to during their time with us, and I know I speak for my entire team when I say that we cannot wait to see them all flourish and grow at Houlton.”
Houlton School is part of the Transforming Lives Educational Trust, which also runs Ashlawn School and Henry Hinde Infant and Junior Schools.
James Higham, CEO of the Transforming Lives Educational Trust, said: “From seeing the initial proposal to witnessing the school being built, brick by brick, this is an incredibly proud moment for everyone involved in the development of Houlton School – and something we have all been looking forward to for so long.
“Today is the first step on the journey of an exciting school that will serve so many families across our community, for many generations to come.”
Johanne Thomas, regional director for Communities at developer Urban&Civic added: “We pulled out all the stops to make today happen. Transforming a listed building into a school, through a global pandemic, has been a huge challenge and only possible through the commitment of our contractors and partnership with Michael and TLET.
“Seeing the excitement on the faces of pupils and their family’s today makes it all worthwhile and we are delighted to welcome them into our Houlton community.”