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An artist’s impression of St Gabriel’s CofE Academy Primary School (Image courtesy of vHH)

Stepnell to build new academy school in Houlton

Local firm starts work on first primary school to be built on new development

Posted by Ben Behrens | December 27, 2016 | Facilities & buildings

Stepnell's work has begun on St Gabriel’s Church of England (CofE) Academy, the first primary school being built in the new Houlton development on the old Rugby Radio Station mast site.

The new £4.2 million school, which will have an initial intake of 30 pupils when it opens next September, is part of the first phase of Houlton – a 1,200-acre phased urban extension on the east of Rugby. 

St Gabriel’s CofE Academy is the first school to be built in Houlton which is named after the American town of Houlton, Maine, where the first transatlantic telephone call was received from Rugby Radio Station in 1927. The new school, forecast to have 390 pupils by 2021, will provide eight teaching classrooms, two halls with flexible activity space, kitchen facilities and outdoor play spaces. 

Named after the patron saint of communications, St Gabriel’s will initially offer one-form entry, with the capacity to extend this to three-form in the future. The Academy’s sponsor is the Coventry Diocesan Board of Education which has formed an academy trust with Houlton developers Urban&Civic. A head teacher for the school was appointed last month, marketing for applications has now begun and information events are planned for the end of November. 

The eye-catching curved, copper saddle roof over the main hall will give the school a dynamic and futuristic appearance

Stepnell is working with Urban&Civic and architects vHH on the St Gabriel’s Academy scheme. 

The Houlton community – which is being developed in phases over the next 20 years – will eventually provide 6,200 new homes, three primary schools, a secondary school, an eight-GP health centre, as well as commercial premises and a strategic link road into Rugby. The new mixed development, one of the 10 largest in the country, is being delivered by Rugby Radio Station Limited Partnership, a joint venture involving developer Urban&Civic and Aviva Investors.

“We are very excited to be involved in the construction of this fantastic state-of-the-art academy school which will play such an important role in shaping the new Houlton community,” says Bill Haynes, construction director for Stepnell. “A challenging part of the construction will be the eye-catching curved, copper saddle roof over the main hall which will give the school a dynamic and futuristic appearance. With the build programme now under way, we’re really looking forward to seeing St Gabriel’s take shape.”

We are taking an active role in the governance and operation of the school and so our interest extends far beyond the building itself

Lee Barrett, senior project manager for Urban&Civic, adds: “Stepnell was recommended to us as a local contractor capable of taking on this really important project. This is our first school at Houlton and so it needed to set the tone for the four that will follow, as well as anchor our first phase with an attractive and high-quality community building. We are taking an active role in the governance and operation of the school and so our interest extends far beyond the building itself. 

“Stepnell has got off to a flying start, making great progress on site. Foundations are in and we’ll see the building coming out of the ground very soon.”

Diocesan director of education Linda Wainscot says: “The Diocesan Board of Education is excited to be opening a new Church of England Academy and is committed to serving the community of Houlton as it grows.”

The Bishop of Coventry, the Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth, says: “It is very fitting that this new venture in education takes its name from Gabriel, the archangel who announced to Mary, Jesus’ mother, that something new, exciting and transformative was about to happen. That’s what we want St Gabriel’s to be: a life-enhancing endeavour for the children of Houlton, and the world they will inhabit and change.”

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