School at former Northampton Royal Mail building delayed for a year

Children mark the topping out ceremony at NIA in December 2015
Children mark the topping out ceremony at NIA in December 2015

Pupils at the Northampton International Academy will have to spend another school year in demountable buildings after the project was delayed for 12 months due to "technical difficulties".

The opening of the new building, "the UK’s largest ever school conversion project", has been delayed until September 2018.

Work to transform the former Royal Mail sorting office in Barrack Road into an all-through school for pupils aged four to 18 is well underway, but delays in the project mean pupils will now move into the building a year later than planned.

Modular buildings for this September’s new intake will now have to be placed at the back of the main, part-renovated building (where parents will drop off future pupils in coming years) , alongside the modular classrooms already being used by the current reception and Year 7 classes. These, who expected to move to the main building this September, will remain in their temporary classroom for one more academic year than planned.

The handover of the completed building is now due to take place in September 2018.

The school is being delivered by Northamptonshire County Council in partnership with the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the educational offer will be delivered by EMLC Academy Trust.

County council cabinet member for children and families Cllr Matthew Golby said: “We are committed to ensuring pupils at Northampton International Academy have the very best standard of education in a modern, state-of-the-art building.

“The reason for the delay is due to technical difficulties which are not unexpected with a project of this size.

"Northampton International Academy is the UK’s largest ever school conversion project and will create additional school places for four to 18-year-olds right in the heart of Northampton to meet the needs of the town’s growing population.

“We are now working closely with the academy sponsor the EMLC Academy Trust and the EFA to provide a high quality modular building suitable for a full years’ education to ensure that the new intake this September are taught in well-equipped, fit-for-purpose accommodation.

“In the meantime, we are working with the contractor to expedite the works where possible for a timely handover.”

Jan Marshall, chief executive of EMLC Academy Trust, said: “The Department of Education has visited the school in the temporary buildings and has made very positive comments about the quality of education that is taking place. This is, and will remain, our priority.

“Our first year as Northampton International Academy has got off to a fantastic start and we will continue to focus on the education of the pupils and do our utmost to ensure that the second year continues that success.”