We have now been in our new school building for nine years and it continues to provide us with an inspirational resource for students and staff alike. The building is spacious, light, airy and conducive to an outstanding climate for teaching and learning.
On entering the school, you walk in to the impressive atrium, which forms the central space of the school, and it is from here that the main teaching areas radiate outwards. Students soon find their way around as everything leads back to the atrium. The atrium space has developed a life of its own, not only for teaching and learning activities but also as a meeting place for staff and students on a daily basis.
This space has also been the venue for concerts, parents’ evenings, staff meetings and, most memorably, for whole school gatherings at different times of the year, including Remembrance Day services, Christmas celebrations and Lenten liturgies. Overlooking the atrium, at the heart of the school, is the school Chapel, a place for reflection and prayer.
Along the front of the school is the spacious main hall together with the attractive dining room to the east and the library and the excellent sports facilities to the west of the main entrance. The sports facilities include a four-court sports hall, a superb activity studio and a modern fitness suite equipped with the latest in fitness machines. The fitness suite has proved to be very popular with students and staff.
The main teaching areas are accessed from the central atrium with classrooms that are bright, spacious and fully equipped with interactive whiteboards and modern furniture and fittings. Each year group has its own set of toilets, landscaped yard area and an entrance where lockers are located. There is also a very large field at the back of the school, which is open to the students in fine weather. This year we have also worked with Newcastle City Council and community groups to open up a cycle access from the school grounds onto the nearby wagon way which will be hugely beneficial once it is officially opened.
There is a dedicated Sixth Form area found on the second level. Two years ago we saw the opening of a significant revamp of the Sixth Form area which included a café-style work area, group study room as well as dedicated learning resource centres with ICT facilities. The new Sixth Form centre is a really impressive addition to our outstanding facilities and it is clear that this area has made an immeasurable difference to the students. It has provided the opportunity for students to complete their education in an environment with high-quality learning facilities.
Our continued popularity and success, previously involved St Mary’s successfully bidding for government funding for a small extension of its building. The extension has now been open for four years and has created additional teaching space for current and future students. It matches the build quality and visual appearance of the existing building and has created more space along the central corridor to enjoy an outstanding education in first class facilities.
Last year, we focussed on improving our dining facilities. This involved some alterations to our main dining facility as well as opening up a doorway and extending into the main hall in order to accommodate our increasing number of students. This allows students to enjoy their social time more fully.