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Construction work starts on brand-new Thirsk Primary school


Kevin Hollinrake MP, representatives from the DFE, Hambleton District Council and Elevate Multi Academy Trust joined Keeble Gateway Academy’s staff and children with principal contractor Portakabin on site to celebrate the Academy’s first construction milestone.

Guests, including founding Trust Member Dame Reena Keeble, and parents gathered on the site of the new Keeble Gateway Academy on Friday 31 January to celebrate the first stage of construction with the children and staff. The ground-breaking event was hosted by Elevate Multi Academy Trust,  Keeble Gateway being one of their 12 primary Academies and Portakabin – the principal contractor.

Keeble Gateway opened its doors to Reception and nursery children in September 2019, albeit in temporary buildings.

On completion in autumn 2020, the new building for Keeble Gateway Academy will accommodate  up to 210 children from Reception to Year 6, as well as having a 26 place nursery. This news has been welcomed by the local community after residential developments in the Thirsk and Sowerby areas have resulted in an increase in pupil numbers.

Elevate Multi Academy Trust was created in 2017 by CEO, Nigel Ashley, formerly a head teacher of a local primary school.  Elevate’s vision is to develop outstanding local primary practice whilst maintaining each Academy’s distinctive ethos, ensuring that children achieve the highest outcomes compared to their peers, nationally. Nikkie Beniams, is executive head teacher over Keeble Gateway and Knayton C of E Primary Academy who were deemed outstanding in a recent Ofsted inspection.

“Elevate Multi Academy Trust is a family of 12 primary Academies predominantly between Thirsk and Knaresborough. We are really excited to be opening Keeble Gateway Academy which will serve the local community of Sowerby and Thirsk.” Said Nigel Ashley, CEO.

“I am delighted to see work start on the new primary school – one of the main components of the Sowerby Gateway scheme which has created retail, leisure, employment, care provision and more than 900 new homes in the area,” said Leader of Hambleton District Council and ward member for Sowerby and Topcliffe, Councillor Mark Robson. “We are seeing a vision coming to fruition with the council delivering on its aims and priorities.”

The brand-new Academy will include seven classrooms, a nursery playroom, a library, staff offices, age group-specific toilets, a kitchen and a main hall over one storey. With learning and play in mind, the building has been designed to maximise natural light and features a modern and spacious layout.

The construction process, which involves a modular and offsite approach, will be safer and take considerably less time than a traditionally built school. As the groundworks take place on the Academy site, the building blocks – known as modules – are being manufactured and fully fitted out at the Portakabin factory in York. The modules will then be placed together on the Academy site in early spring, with final fixtures and fittings taking place throughout the summer.

Nick Griffin, General Manager for Portakabin comments; “We have worked closely with the Department for Education and Elevate Multi Academy Trust to ensure that the new Keeble Gateway Academy building will meet their children’s needs.

“A modular construction approach lends itself well to a project such as this because we have more precise methods. The modules are built in a controlled factory environment and then rigorously tested before reaching the Academy site, so we can ensure Keeble Gateway will be finished to a higher standard than a traditionally constructed building.

“It’s a great pleasure to celebrate the first milestone in this project, one which – on completion – will be an important part of the local community.”

Ground Breaking on the new Keeble Gateway Academy Site - Friday 31st January 2020