£1m upgrade as school begins new era as an Academy

The Heys School headteacher Rachel Evans

A high school in Bury which is starting a new era as an academy is undergoing a £1m upgrade.

The Heys School, formerly Prestwich Arts College, has become part of The Rowan Learning Trust.

A programme of external and internal improvements is being carried out in time for when pupils return for the new term on Monday, September 7.

External works include a new roof, new railings, signage and car park lighting, the installation of electronic gates and improvements to the pupil entrance, paths, ramps and walkways across the site on Heys Road, Prestwich.

Internally, the scheme involves the creation of new classrooms to form a larger teaching area, an upgrade to the heating and electrical systems and new windows, flooring and décor.

The Rowan Learning Trust, which includes five other schools across Wigan and Knowsley, has also secured funds for the next phase of improvements at The Heys School, which will incorporate upgrades to the library and more classrooms.

Head teacher Rachel Evans said: “We are thrilled that the trust has been able to address urgent and essential issues to the buildings and external areas to bring about much-needed improvements.

“They will make the site safer and more secure, will enable us to further develop the curriculum, and will create better community access to our facilities.”

She added: “We are grateful to the Department for Education and the local authority for their funding support and to The Rowan Learning Trust for immediately demonstrating its commitment to improve the school for the benefit of students, staff and the wider community.

“I am proud for the school to be part of the trust and look forward to working alongside the organisation to ensure The Heys School goes from strength to strength.”

The school, which has 760 pupils on its roll, became part of the trust on June 1.

Students were asked to suggest a new name for the school and design a new crest.

From a shortlist, the governors chose The Heys School, and a crest which features the Manchester Bee. The school’s strapline is Realising Greatness.

Rachel said: “Involving students in the evolution and development of the school is vitally important. We are thrilled with the new name and crest.”

Andy Wilson, chair of trustees of The Rowan Learning Trust, said: “We’re delighted to have The Heys School join our family of schools.

“Our ethos is to invest in our staff and buildings to improve student learning and outcomes, preparing them for life beyond school.

“We are a collaborative community where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

The external works are being carried out by Tom Gallagher, based in Bolton. Other contractors include Alpha Roofing Systems, of Tyldesley, Astley Access Automation, of Leyland, and AHR Building Consultancy.

Rachel said detailed preparations have been made to ensure the school meets COVID-19 requirements for when the pupils return.

During lockdown, staff kept in regular contact with students via email, virtual learning sessions, social media and phone calls. Their efforts earned the school a safeguarding initiative award from The Safeguarding Alliance.

Rachel said: “I’m immensely proud of the staff for this achievement. This award really highlights our commitment and dedication to the students in our care.

“Throughout lookdown I have been in regular contact with parents and they have been extremely positive about the care and support we have given to our pupils.

“I am excited for The Heys School to embark on a new era as an academy. We know September and the coming months will be challenging for all schools. We have done a huge amount of work in preparation for our students returning, and are just looking forward to having them back with us.”