Pupils and parents take a peek inside £20 million new school in Northampton

Soon-to-be pupils of the Northampton International Academy release ballons in front of the Barrack Road building.
Soon-to-be pupils of the Northampton International Academy release ballons in front of the Barrack Road building.

Parents got their first glimpse inside the Northampton International Academy building as the empty former Post Office building played host to a topping-out ceremony.

Civic leaders were taken on a tour of the Barrack Road building yesterday as part of an event to mark the site being ready to undergo a multi-million-pound internal transformation into a 2,200-pupil school.

Northampton International Academy, Barrack Road, Northampton (former Royal Mail site)'Northampton International Academy (NIA) is marking a crucial milestone in its construction 'at a landmark topping out ceremony NNL-151222-153152009

Northampton International Academy, Barrack Road, Northampton (former Royal Mail site)'Northampton International Academy (NIA) is marking a crucial milestone in its construction 'at a landmark topping out ceremony NNL-151222-153152009

Workers have been stripping the former sorting office since June, removing 584 tonnes of scrap metal and 54 lorry loads of hardcore in the process.

Parents who have already booked a place for their children to go to the academy were also taken round the building, which is currently an empty shell.

Among them was mum-of-four Fiona Giddens, of Collingtree Park, who has applied for her daughter Aimee to be among the first round of year seven pupils to start at the school in September.

She said: “It is really refreshing to have another school to choose from.

Northampton International Academy, Barrack Road, Northampton (former Royal Mail site)'Northampton International Academy (NIA) is marking a crucial milestone in its construction 'at a landmark topping out ceremony NNL-151222-153234009

Northampton International Academy, Barrack Road, Northampton (former Royal Mail site)'Northampton International Academy (NIA) is marking a crucial milestone in its construction 'at a landmark topping out ceremony NNL-151222-153234009

“With one of our boys we applied for three schools and got into none of them.

“This school looks like it will put pupils first.

“We want our child to go to school with a smile on their face.”

The school is currently accepting places in its reception and year seven to start in September 2016.

Northampton International Academy, Barrack Road, Northampton (former Royal Mail site)'Northampton International Academy (NIA) is marking a crucial milestone in its construction 'at a landmark topping out ceremony NNL-151222-153221009

Northampton International Academy, Barrack Road, Northampton (former Royal Mail site)'Northampton International Academy (NIA) is marking a crucial milestone in its construction 'at a landmark topping out ceremony NNL-151222-153221009

A handful of the children already set to enrol released balloons bearing the academy logo to mark the topping out ceremony yesterday.

Parents and future pupils also took a tour of the building to see plans for the new school and quiz academy staff about its features, including the plans for a gym on the top floor.

Chief executive of the EMLC Academy Trust, which will run the new school, Jan Marshall, said everything is on track for the building to begin its phased open from next September, which will see the school open to all years from reception through to sixth form by 2020.

She said: “Building work is happening at a pace, and is on schedule, we are recruiting dedicated, and talented staff and local families are signing up for places.”

Northampton International Academy, Barrack Road, Northampton (former Royal Mail site)'Northampton International Academy (NIA) is marking a crucial milestone in its construction 'at a landmark topping out ceremony NNL-151222-153125009

Northampton International Academy, Barrack Road, Northampton (former Royal Mail site)'Northampton International Academy (NIA) is marking a crucial milestone in its construction 'at a landmark topping out ceremony NNL-151222-153125009

Joining the parents at the topping out was the county council’s cabinet member for education, Councillor Matthew Golby.

He said: “This is an exciting project that will regenerate a prominent derelict site and help us to meet the need for additional school places in Northampton. I am very much looking forward to seeing the project develop over the coming months.”

Northampton South MP David Mackintosh, also taking the tour, said: “This represents the kind of development we need to see more of in Northampton, where an old derelict site is redeveloped for the future benefit of the local community and the town as a whole.”

Work will now begin on the interior of NIA, which will include fully equipped music rooms, a theatre, science labs and dance and drama studios when the building is fully complete.

However, there are still places available for next September.

Executive principal for the academy, Andy Hardy, said that even though the school will not be fully completed by next September and many lessons will take place in temporary classrooms, parents should not worry about applying.

“The modular classrooms will be like a village,” he said. “Everything will be in that area to offer the curriculum like any other school - in fact, more than any other school.”

From September, up to 60 pupils will be able to enter Reception class and 300 pupils will be able to join year 7.

Parents and pupils will be invited back to the Barrack Road building site over the coming months to see works progress.