When the roof collapsed just days after a condition survey carried out by the Department for Education concluded the building was in A1 condition, High Tunstall College of Science Headteacher Mark Tilling, headed to Parliament to lobby for a new school.
With the help of the previous Member of Parliament for Hartlepool, Iain Wright, Dean Jackson, the former assistant Director of Education for Hartlepool Borough Council, Mark was able to secure a meeting with Minister of State for Schools at the time, David Laws, and his assistants.
Mark Tilling said: “The College has been an important part of Hartlepool for over 47 years, but the building was old and tired. The facilities and the resources for our young people were nowhere near up to the standard they should have been.
“We took a portfolio of this evidence down to Parliament as we felt it was important to put forward a strong case as we’re just one of thousands of schools across the UK and everyone wants a new building.
“We were lucky enough in arranging a meeting with the Minister of State for Schools where we explained the situation the College was in and presented to him our evidence.”
Six months later Mark and High Tunstall were successful in being placed on the Priority Schools Building Programme 2 (PSBP2). The PSBP2 came into effect in 2014 and was the replacement of the previous Building Schools for the Future programme implemented in the 2000s by the previous Labour Government
This meant the College would be allocated a portion of the £4.4 billion fund specifically set aside by the Government for the renovation and development of new schools across the UK.
Mark was initially allocated £17.1m from the programme but when the local authorities increased the number of pupils at the College from 240 to a 270 intake, Mark was allocated an additional £1.3m from the Local Authorities Basic Need Funding.
Contracts were then put together and the design for the school began in 2016 with key contractor BAM and the Department for Education working together.
Mark continued: “The team came up with six or seven different models for the new College and eventually came up with a design that was functional and aided in movement and navigation for our students.
“All the way through the process, the Department for Education was very much in agreement with what we were doing with the new building and worked hand-in-hand with ourselves and BAM.”
Facilities in the new 3-storey building include 10 new science rooms and one demonstration laboratory, creative design rooms, design technology and one food technology classroom and a food demonstration room. The College has also benefited from a brand-new learning resource centre where students can learn independently.
The four-court sports hall features solid wood sprung flooring and the ground floor features a theatre and dance studio as well as a large open plan cafeteria, which is the heart of the College. Classrooms in the new college contain interactive televisions.
There are currently 4,188 secondary schools across the UK. A recent report from the National Audit Office has stated that 35% of these school buildings require substantial repairs costing more than £1 million to return to satisfactory condition.
The report also states in order to get all schools into an acceptable state of repair it would cost £6.7bn.
Mark said: “Projects like this show students they are cared about, are invested in and they can come to a school that they can be proud of.
“We’ve always been proud of the High Tunstall name and now we have a facility that is befitting the name, befitting the College and makes students feel proud. Also, teachers come into work to a nice environment. With their well-being being looked after, they’re going to teach better and everyone is going to achieve better in the long run.”
“High Tunstall College is set for a very bright future.”