Last concrete laid as builders reach top of Ilford academy school

A year to the week that Ilford’s first built academy school will welcome its first pupils was marked with a topping out ceremony.

Headteacher Rachel Macfarlane, representatives from construction firm Skanska, and ARK who own the new Isaac Newton Academy school, proudly took to the top of the four storey building, where they put in place the last of the concrete.

They were joined by Redbridge Mayor Cllr Chris Cummins, cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Alan Weinberg, and Labour group leader Cllr Bob Littlewood on Thursday.

In traditional style, Scandinavian firm Skanska dropped an evergreen tree on the floor, an old custom which executive vice president of the construction firm Paul Chandler explained was to ward off evil spirits.

The four form entry school will take 180 students when opened in September next year.

During speeches after the ceremony, head Ms Macfarlane said she could not wait for what was a “rare and golden opportunity” to lead the school from the outset.

“Today we’ve been in South Park Primary school, talking to the pupils about what a wonderful opportunity it will be to be part of a unique 180, all of which will benefit from personalised attention as the first form,” she said.

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“But it wasn’t such an easy task explaining where we were in the league tables,” she laughed.

Managing director of ARK schools Lucy Heller said: “We thank Redbridge Council for giving us their backing for this, the whole team has worked fantastically well.”

Cllr Littlewood welcomed the academy school, adding it was something the south of the borough could be proud of.

Skanska vice president Mr Chandler said: “Successful projects do not happen by chance, they happen through determination and hard work.

“I looked at some things mathematician Isaac Newton had said, and found one relevant quote – ‘We built far too many walls and not enough bridges’.

“We hope we are creating bridges we can be proud of,” he added.