An insider look at The King’s School impressive new £60 million campus

PUBLISHED: 16:26 13 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:20 13 August 2020

The King's School has some impressive new facilities. Photo: Christian Smith

The King's School has some impressive new facilities. Photo: Christian Smith

©Christian Smith 2019

Caroline Johnson, director of external relations at The King’s School in Macclesfield, reflects on the culmination of an eight-year vision to relocate one of the country’s oldest schools to a new site during what has been a year like no other

The £60 million campus is the result of an eight-year '2020 Vision' plan. Photo: Christian SmithThe £60 million campus is the result of an eight-year '2020 Vision' plan. Photo: Christian Smith

The past year has been unprecedented for everyone, but for The King’s School, it was already set to be a momentous time as it moved out of its historic, listed buildings and into a purpose-built campus on the edge of Prestbury, Over Alderley and Macclesfield.

Back in 2012, the governors of King’s set out a ‘2020 Vision’ to move to a single, state-of-the-art campus at the end of the decade. Little did they know what else 2020 had in store.

Now complete, the move has brought all the school’s pupils, aged three to 18, onto a single campus for the first time in its 518-year history. It’s also seen the school become fully co-educational for the first time.

Fortunately, staff had been gradually preparing pupils and systems, not only for the physical move, but also the exciting co-educational future.

The swimming pool is just one of the new facilities the students have to look forward to. Photo: Christian SmithThe swimming pool is just one of the new facilities the students have to look forward to. Photo: Christian Smith

Looking back, we realise how blessed we were to have had all our ducks in a row well before March when schools found themselves suddenly closing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The closure meant that, initially, the focus was on establishing a robust remote learning system, adjusting to new ways of teaching and supporting pupils’ wellbeing, as well as getting used to new online ways of doing everything, from parents’ evenings to governors’ meetings. It was a very steep learning curve.

As weeks progressed, it was clear that all sectors of the economy were being challenged by the ongoing pandemic and the construction industry was no different: the site of our new campus went from having around 300 people working on it on March 20th, to having fewer than 100 the following week.

Inevitably, for a sector that is dominated by health and safety regulations, it quickly adjusted to new ways of Covid-safe working.

Pupils will get to see the new campus for the first time in September. Photo: Christian SmithPupils will get to see the new campus for the first time in September. Photo: Christian Smith

Our main contractor, Vinci Construction, is a global company and has been fantastic in getting the site ready. Despite lockdown lasting many months, we were fortunate to only have a six-week delay to the completion and handover of the site.

Nonetheless, this has meant it has been a very busy summer for King’s. Staff have risen to the challenge of an extended summer term (to allow more teaching time for pupils), packing and moving while premises were closed, unpacking in their holidays (during a heatwave!), coming up with ingenious ways to show pupils the new campus in lieu of visits, and getting ready for opening in a Covid-safe way in early September.

The prize of the stunning new campus, set in glorious Cheshire countryside and with enviable facilities, makes all the hard work worth it. And in some ways, the opening will be even more special because of the difficult circumstances: pupils won’t have seen the facilities, they won’t have spent time with many of their friends for almost six months and, more than ever, the excitement of coming together as a single community will feel really special.

Opening the doors will have a greater significance for our 1,200 pupils and 300 staff than any of us could ever have imagined: we will manage the Covid restrictions with enthusiasm as we relish being on our incredible new campus, together.

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