Students at The Academy, Selsey had their first day in their rebuilt school yesterday, nearly three years after a devastating fire.
The secondary school, which had catered for its community for decades, was almost completely destroyed in a huge fire in August 2016, leaving pupils in temporary teaching blocks while the new building rose from the ashes.
Now the state-of-the-art facility has opened its doors for its first term, teaching around 400 students.
Headteacher Tom Garfield said: “I’m delighted to be standing outside our brand new facility on our first day.
“It’s been three years nearly since the fire that destroyed the school and we’re just thrilled to be able to give the young people of our community this outstanding facility to be able to continue their education.”
The rebuilt school features a library garden area to encourage the enjoyment of reading, a junior facility to help improve engagement and transition work with primary schools and a specialist arts block to support a broad arts curriculum.
A relocation of the school hall to near the entrance is intended to foster easier use for community events.
Watch a video tour of the site under construction here.
The fire in 2016 was most likely caused by workmen operating on the roof, the fire service said at the time.
Just 44 days after the blaze, pupils being taught in community locations were rehoused in a temporary ‘academy village’ made out of portable buildings, including IT facilities, a canteen and a library.
The ‘instant school’ was to be home for the academy while TKAT, the school’s academy trust, started work on clearing the gutted remains of the school away from the two buildings that had survived the fire and designed a new build.
At the end of last term, 948 days after the fire, the academy confirmed it would be moving in, with staff and students praised for their resilience.
Dr Karen Roberts CEO of The Kemnal Academies Trust said: “I’m delighted that our ambitious rebuild of The Academy, Selsey is now complete and ready for the start of the summer term.
"Staff and students can now benefit from a bespoke new building, and enjoy the new state-of-the-art classrooms, library and Information Technology spaces.
"The new facilities enable us to provide the local community with the best possible learning environment for their children.
"The Kemnal Academies Trust is grateful to the builders, project team and school leadership team for their hard work in making our vision a reality; pupils were very patient during the time spent in temporary accommodation and we hope that, like us, they will be justly proud of their brilliant new school."