Not many people get the chance to be the guest of honour opening the same building for the second time. It happened to Miss Lis Sutton at Bishop Luffa this month.
44 years ago, as a shy new Art teacher starting her first job, Lis Sutton met the Headmaster, Mr Bartlett, holding a bunch of keys. It was the start of the Autumn Term 1973. Mr Bartlett immediately walked with her to a new teaching block. The school had grown to bursting point, and more classrooms were desperately needed. “This,” said Mr Bartlett pointing at the brand new building, “is the answer to all our problems.” He gave her the keys and invited her to be the first to enter.
44 years later, on Election Night 2017, Lis Sutton re-opened the same building, newly re-built and re-furbished. Now retired as a teacher but still working at Bishop Luffa as a Study Supervisor, Lis spoke of how the school has changed and grown over those years. “As a school we have always embraced challenges and high expectations,” she said, “as well as enjoying ourselves and having fun at the same time.” In spite of all the changes, she said, “I feel that our Christian ethos and spirit is still around us.” The School’s Swing Band greeted the 100 guests and Caterlink, the school’s caterers, provided refreshments.
A capital grant of £2.5m enabled the complete gutting of the old K Block and we were celebrating its transformation into a bright and imaginative environment for learning. The £50k raised by the School community in our Big Walk last October meant that we could further equip the Building with the latest wireless infrastructure and portable tablets and laptops.
Matthew Creswick (12Ridgeway) is now using the new lecture room: “It’s a large open space that facilitates all class sizes and I feel that it provides a unique learning environment which stimulates an eagerness to learn.”
Mrs Rose Hobbs, Faculty Coach for Humanities, was a pupil at the school, before returning to teach. “I have been part of the Bishop Luffa community since I was 11. Now here in 2017 as a geography teacher, I feel so privileged to have seen the transformation ‘K Block’ has gone through. Although there were some wonderful memories from the old building, and in a way it is sad to see it go, I think it’s now time for a new chapter and for new memories to be made in these beautiful classrooms.”
Miss Mari Burton, History Teacher feels the new light and airy space will allow for a greater range of activities within lessons. “Now along with class debates, independent research and written work, we have room for re-enactments of Suffragette protest marches and the Battle of Hastings!”
Having been at the school since 2008, Mr Justin Barnett, Head of Humanities sees the new classrooms as a fantastic addition to the school. “For the first time in a number of years, the whole of Humanities will be in the same area of the school, which will help staff share ideas, and further develop our collaborative working. As well as this, the new classrooms are really good spaces in which to teach and learn: they are bright and spacious. Whilst I may have had a nostalgic attachments to my old classroom and office (possibly due to being a History specialist!), there really is no comparison.”
The 100 invited guests were drawn from the many people who had contributed to the project’s success: David Grey, the School’s architect, Brian Hay and the builders, members of the Parents’ and Friends Association, the Big Walk helpers, staff and many others. “It was a grand opening,” said Mr Nick Taunt, Headteacher.