Do you remember the glut of DIY programmes that fairly recently swept our TV listings, with people like “Handy Andy” dominating our small screens? Although Andy (Kane) may have long since returned to his South London tool shed, sadly for unhandy types like me his “do-it-yourself legacy” lives on, compounded by design stalwarts such as Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Tommy Walsh who continue to broadcast in a futile attempt to keep us anti-aficionados in our cravats and dungarees!
Anyway, where is this going? Well, Grand Designs aside, I am trying to draw a tenuous parallel with why we are soon to build a new Sixth Form Centre. Just as I may have legitimately or otherwise blamed my junior hacksaw for the wobbly skirting boards, members of Sixth Form may have occasionally articulated diversionary opinions on the current Sixth Form Centre, its Victorian setting (School House) and its suitability for the long term.
Don’t get me wrong, the pupils are blessed with a wealth of study rooms, ICT suites galore and, of course, the Kent Library, but we all want a 21st century Sixth Form Centre that blows our (school crested) socks off and seamlessly bridges the gap between school and university: a building that successfully combines teaching space with private study and IT facilities - fixed PCs and bring your own - as well large and small social areas, a coffee/snack bar similar to those found on the High Street, seminar facilities and a large meeting space which extends onto an external roof terrace with far reaching and stimulating views. In addition, we want the building to provide gallery space for our brilliant artwork, and all of this at a very competitive price. Thankfully, all the signs are that the designers have risen to the challenge and you will by now have noticed the artist’s impressions that accompany this blog.
And, to any alumni reading this, you will I’m sure have very fond memories of pommel horse and wall bar splinters, being shouted at by surname only, unglamorous PE kit and endless shuttle runs in the austere building that once occupied the site in question - the Old Gym. Well, we have asked that the Sixth Form Centre contains some kind of fitting tribute to its “predecessor” and I will keep you posted this development, as well as bigger plans for a new Old Gym in the not too distant future hopefully. Another item on our wish list for the Centre, which I’m told is an unusual request, is for observation panels between departmental offices and some classrooms, the stimulus being one of professional development and the sharing of best practice in teaching and learning. We do have many excellent teachers here and it’s all too easy to throw money at externally provided training when we are blessed with such internal expertise.
Enjoy the pictures and fingers crossed that we break ground on schedule next summer for occupation in September 2015.
Before signing off, I’m sure Handy Andy is a thoroughly decent chap, my comments are not intended to cause offence and I hope that in time his tool shed has a roof terrace too!