Dorset

Portland academy school: MoD weapons site turned into campus

IPACA Maritime House
Image caption The 1950s building once housed Cold War-era weapons developers

A former Ministry of Defence building in Dorset has been converted into an academy school campus following a major refurbishment.

Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA) is due to move to Maritime House at Southwell Business Park in September.

The school for four to 19-year-olds had been operating across three sites.

Academy bosses said spending £25m on refurbishment meant they ended up with a £50m facility.

Becky Pearce - one of the academy's four headteachers - said: "We've pretty much got twice the amount of space we would have been able to have so we've been able to redevelop the secondary and the primary together.

"If we hadn't have refurbished the building...we wouldn't have had the opportunity to work with our primary colleagues."

Image caption The inside of the building has been completely remodelled
Image caption Flexible spaces mean pupils can learn in larger groups

The academy's move to the building was delayed when planning permission was refused. It was granted on appeal in April 2014.

Governors of the school previously said the delay had put it under "significant financial pressure" because of the duplicated costs involved in working across three sites.

The 1,730 capacity academy operates a "stage, not age" approach to teaching, allowing children to move up through subjects when they are ready.

The academy has three "schools" or houses - King Barow, Perryfield and Admiralty - and a "discovery phase", each with their own head teacher led by an over-arching principal and chief executive, Joss Hayes.

The refurbished 1950s building once housed the former Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment (AUWE) which developed weaponry throughout the Cold War.

It closed in 1995, along with Portland's naval base, and was turned into Southwell Business Park in 1997.

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