STUDENTS from the Durand Academy in south London made the first visit to their new boarding school in Stedham.
The UK’s first fully-funded boarding school will open its doors to the first cohort of Year 9 pupils in September.
Claire Allen from Brixton in south London, whose son Tai will be starting at the school in September, said: “Tai has been on board with this from the beginning, telling me all the time he really wanted to go.
“He can’t wait for September now and it will be such a great experience for him. As a single-parent, the educational opportunity this offers will be great.
“The boarding school setting will give any child going here the chance to experience something they’ve never had.
“The benefit to them will be great, and it will be so good for them to experience life in the South Downs National Park.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m really glad Tai will be one of the first to go.”
As part of the preparations, a group of 150 parents, pupils and teachers from Durand visited the site to learn about the building, sample the lunch and dinner menus, play on the football pitch and hear more about the curriculum and boarding experience.
Members of the senior team from the middle school in London are set to move to the site, but a number of posts are also being recruited from around the area, for support with music, sport and nursing.
Executive head of Durand Academy Sir Greg Martin said: “After years of planning, we are really looking forward to the start of term, and are so pleased to bring this site back to life.
“Durand’s boarding school is an embodiment of what the national parks are all about – opening up opportunities for people of all backgrounds, and sharing a beautiful space with people from all over the country. We are very grateful for the support we have received from some of the local community and from politicians of all parties. We will also be pressing ahead with our appeal, to enable us to make the most of this site.”