Burslem School of Art, in the heart of the Mothertown, will soon be embarking on a new chapter in its illustrious history.
From September 2016, 200 students from Haywood Sixth Form Academy will move into the newly refurbished grade II listed building to enjoy purpose-built facilities.
A state-of-the-art design enterprise suite will be used for engineering product design and textiles. A specialist photography suite will house its own dark room and Apple Macs to enable students to learn digital photography skills. An ICT ‘window on the world’ room and specialist computing laboratory will provide students with leading-edge computer equipment and there will also be a specialist science lab and language lab.
Students will develop their artistic talents in the magnificent art room, with its huge windows and perfect lighting for artwork, following in the footsteps of the Burslem School of Art’s prestigious alumni, including Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper and William Moorcroft.
The Burslem School of Art Trust carried out a refurbishment of the building in 2000 and has developed and delivered many arts events, projects and activities over the past fifteen years, working with diverse communities and artists.
Now, Haywood Sixth Form Academy is working closely with the Trust to form a partnership that will build on its fantastic work and secure the future of this beautiful building.
Carl Ward, Executive Headteacher, said: “Haywood Sixth Form Academy is becoming as popular as I had hoped when many parents and students asked if we would consider opening, just a few years ago. Our aim is always to give the best to our students.
“Our first phase of building work was the successful refurbishment of Burslem’s Victorian Town Hall, which now houses 100 sixth formers and provides a regenerated hub for Burslem’s community.
“Moving our plans for the second phase of building work to the Burslem School of Art is part of our commitment to improving the wider community of Burslem for the future of students, past, present and future. It will allow us to spend more of the money we have been granted to improve educational facilities and equipment for students and will bring another ‘great’ historic English building back to life.
“With the support of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, a £1.5m refurbishment will take place from February to July 2016 in readiness for our new intake of students in September.
“I hope also our new building will provide further motivation for our students to aspire to great things. I hope its place in history as a training centre for some of the most inspiring and famous 20th century artists will show our students that it really is possible to follow your dreams.”
The building will be transformed into a thriving sixth form academy, where young people will be inspired and offered first class support to help them succeed and progress into university, apprenticeships or work.
Outside the new sixth form academy’s opening hours (in evenings, at weekends and outside of term time), The Burslem School of Art Trust will continue its excellent work with the aim to make art accessible to everyone.
Patrick Redmond, Chair of The Burslem School of Art Trust, said: “Burslem School of Art appreciate all of the support from tenants, staff, public and volunteers over the years. We look forward to the next stage of development of the history of this fantastic building in partnership with Haywood Academy.”
Commenting on the confirmation that the new sixth form is now to be co-located in both the Burslem School of Art as well as the Old Town Hall, Vice-Chair of the City Learning Trust, Joan Walley said: “This is wonderful news for the students and town of Burslem. It makes more sense to make best use of the heritage buildings we have and re- use and renovate them rather than invest in a new building.
“Our vision is a ‘Burslem Campus’ for the benefit of the whole community. By putting education first, and working alongside the Burslem School of Art trustees to retain an art and cultural facility for use out of school hours, we are ensuring a long term future for this much loved building. Students and parents can be assured that together we are all part of Burslem’s future.”
Ruth Smeeth, Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove said: “The second phase of the Haywood Sixth Form Academy development, at the School of Art, is a boon for Burslem and I look forward to seeing the Sixth Form thrive in the years ahead.”
Councillor Jack Brereton, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “It is fantastic news that the new Haywood Sixth Form Academy, in the heart of Burslem town centre, has done so well since it opened in September. The increasing numbers of people in the town is helping to bring forward the rejuvenation of Burslem.
“The city council have been working closely with the City Learning Trust to invest in facilities which are fit for the future and provide excellent opportunities for our young people to succeed. Using the School of Art building for this further expansion is the best decision for both Burslem and for the Sixth Form. It will not only see this historic building brought back to life, but bring more activity into Queen Street.”