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New cutting edge arts centre is a ‘dream come true’ for Woodford Green school

PUBLISHED: 13:23 18 October 2016 | UPDATED: 13:23 18 October 2016

The opening of the Roding Arts Centre at Woodbridge High School Woodford Green.

The opening of the Roding Arts Centre at Woodbridge High School Woodford Green.

Archant

When you walk through Woodbridge High School’s new building you would be forgiven for thinking you were in a university or arts college.

Praise for pupils

Assistant headteacher Jeremy Clifton praised Woodbridge High School pupils for the patience while the new arts centre was being built.

With part of the school a building site for several years, numerous subjects and the canteen were moved across Woodbridge’s grounds.

“Students have just got on with it,” Mr Clifton said.

“Walking another 200 metres to get into school, not a problem. This is just what Woodbridge is about.”

Mr Clifton revealed that teachers had actually complained more than the pupils.

Piano music echoes down the hallway from practice rooms, while upstairs students work on large canvasses and textile designs.

The new Roding Arts Centre was officially opened by the Redbridge Mayor on Monday, which assistant headteacher Jeremy Clifton described as a “dream come true”.

Six years in the making, the state of the art building houses six different subjects and includes a theatre and a fitness suite.

There are Apple computers for music technology, special equipment for ICT and several large drama spaces.

Addressing the 150 strong audience at the unveiling in St Barnabas Road, Woodford Green, headteacher Andrew Beaumont said it was a “great achievement”.

“It has been a dream to get all of the performance arts into this building, to allow people to express themselves.

“What students must be thinking when they come into a spectacular building like this is that I want to create something.”

Mr Beaumont explained how the idea for the building had germinated at a meeting in Ilford in 2010.

Redbridge Council officers were discussing how to deal with the population growth in the borough, and the headteacher pitched his school forward.

“I was delighted when the opportunity came that Woodbridge High School might be part of the expansion plan,” he explained.

“I thought what an opportunity this was, how could we make the best of this.”

Mr Beaumont said it had been a “long project”, with ups and downs, but he was “delighted” it had finished on time and on budget.

Redbridge Mayor Cllr Gurdial Bhamra said the success of the building showed the importance of “working in partnership”.

He said: “It’s very important for our children to learn a broad curriculum and the arts plays an important part in that.

“When these children get to school they have the opportunity to learn interesting subjects in a wonderful building.”

He compared the theatre in its size and quality to the professional Queen’s Theatre in Havering.

The Mayor ended his speech by issuing a challenge to the Woodbridge pupils.

He announced he was launching a Redbridge’s Got Talent competition next year, and asked the students who use the new arts centre to enter.

After the speeches Cllr Bhamra cut the red ribbon to officially open the building, and pupils gave guests tours of the centre.

The young tour guides were bright, articulate and knowledgeable, and showed councillors and parents around classrooms where teachers were holding lessons.

Assistant headteacher Mr Clifton, who was in charge of the project at the school’s end, praised the children for their patience during the work.

“It’s fantastic what we have been able to achieve together. It’s a school that is going places and we can look at this with a lot of pride,” he said.

The Recorder is starting a dedicated weekly education page. If you have a story about a school or any education news email ralph.blackburn@archant.co.uk.

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