In partnership with Blackpool Council, Preston-based Eric Wright Group has officially completed the £2.3m refurbishment of Woodlands SEN School in Blackpool. The investment provides much-needed improved facilities for local children with special educational needs from early years to 16.
Marking the completion of works at an official opening ceremony held today (8th November) at Whitegate Drive, Mr Eric Wright and his wife, Alison, attended along with Blackpool Council’s Director of Children’s Services, Mrs Diane Booth.
The project, which took 18-months to complete, was awarded to Eric Wright Group’s Special Projects construction division by the Blackpool Local Education Partnership (LEP) – made up of Blackpool Council and Eric Wright Group. It is one of over 51 projects undertaken by Eric Wright Group in the town in the last 25 years, with investments totalling £146m.
The Woodlands School improvement programme, which began in March 2017 consisted of a comprehensive, six-phase refurbishment programme. Extensions to the front and side elevations enabled administrative areas to be expanded, whilst new facilities and the reconfiguration of classrooms, corridors, ceilings and toilets brought the building up to current building regulation guidelines and created new teaching and learning spaces for the staff and pupils.
Head of Special Projects at Eric Wright Group, Stephen Knowles, who was born and still lives in Blackpool, spoke about the project with Blackpool Council. He said: “The improvements which have been made to Woodlands School will really enhance the learning experience for the school community and we are delighted to have been able to deliver those for the town. We’ve had a great working relationship with the staff and children and have ensured minimal disruption for them whilst we completed these much-needed improvement works. We’re delighted with the high standard of the finish and it’s great to see the positive effect already on those using the building.
“Woodlands School is our most recent legacy project delivered through the successful partnership between Eric Wright Group and Blackpool Council, which has seen us deliver improvements at numerous places in the region including Westbury Lodge, Bispham High School and St. Mary’s Catholic Academy. Blackpool has always been an important town for Eric Wright Group and, being a local man myself, I’m extremely proud to be part of the team delivering improvements to these much needed community facilities.”
Cllr Kath Benson, Cabinet Member for schools and learning said: “ We want to give every young Blackpool resident the very best start in life. These pupils deserve to be taught in a building that matches the quality care and teaching they receive from staff.
“It was obvious that staff at the school were doing the best they could with outdated facilities, but the building felt very institutional, which was in complete contrast to the caring teaching practices that were evident in classroom life.
“I hope that parents and pupils are impressed with the end result.This is a wonderful day for Woodlands School not just for these pupils but for generations to come.”
Karen Haworth, Woodlands School Headteacher said “The completed refurbishment has has an immediate and positive impact on the pupils’ quality of life; not just their education but their health and well being whilst at school.
The facilities have enabled pupils to engage and experience the new opportunities within their fabulous outdoor spaces. This will I’m sure have a huge impact on pupil outcomes.”
Photograph – (L-R) Eric Wright, Chairman Eric Wright Group, Alison Wright, Trustee Eric Wright Charitable Trust, children from Woodlands School, Bernie Ashworth, family support worker at Woodlands School, Diane Booth, director of Children’s Services and Councillor Kathryn Benson.