Southampton's first all-through school 'tops out'

Yesterday (16 September) Southampton City Councillors were joined by Morgan Sindall Construction, Faithful+Gould, the Diocese of Winchester and the school’s Headteacher among others to celebrate the ‘topping out’ of St Mark’s Church of England School.

Topping out ceremony at St Mark's C of E School with Clifford Kinch, Cllr James Baillie, Stephanie Bryant, Robert Sanders and Cllr Daniel Fitzhenry

The £39.8 million expansion of the existing St Mark’s Church of England Primary School which was demolished last year will deliver Southampton’s first-ever four to 16 all-through school. Once completed, the expanded school will create 900 much-needed new secondary school places with the all-through school benefiting from a pre-school nursery, a two-form entry primary school and a six-form entry secondary school.

Some of the features of the new school include air-conditioned classrooms, an outdoor science courtyard for outside experiments and a new sports building for both primary and secondary school pupils. In addition, natural and artificial grass sports pitches will form part of the expanded school, creating a new clean, well-maintained space at the heart of the community that will help support active and healthy lifestyles.

Councillor James Baillie, Cabinet Member for Education, praised the project: 

“This project demonstrates our commitment to improving the learning of our children across the city by providing excellent education opportunities. The pupils of St Mark’s C of E School will benefit from best-in-class education facilities, offering greater learning opportunities and ensuring children get the best possible start in life.

“We want a city in which people can start well and have happy and fulfilling lives in a place they’re proud to live, learn, work and hand to future generations. We are getting Southampton moving by creating a city of opportunity for all so we can be a happy, hopeful, and ambitious city.  

“I want to thank all those involved in this amazing project and I look forward to seeing secondary school pupils starting their first ever term here in Autumn next year.”

Pupils currently attending St Mark’s C of E Primary School were moved across to a specially designed temporary school building in November last year. From the start of their Spring term 2022, primary pupils will move across to their brand-new school and the temporary school building will be transformed into a multi-use games area (MUGA). From September 2022, the first Year 7 pupils will be moving into the secondary school wing of the new building with the final works completed in December 2022.

Clifford Kinch, Area Director of Morgan Sindall, added:

“We’re delighted to reach this major milestone on the St Mark’s CE All-Though School and see this landmark project really taking shape, which is testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved. The new school will provide first-class educational facilities for both current and future generations of pupils to enjoy.

“We look forward to continuing our close working relationship with Southampton City Council for the next stage of this much-needed school which will serve the Southampton community.”

Jeff Williams, Director of Education at the Diocese of Winchester, said:

“The team at St Mark’s has worked tirelessly to create an environment in which children and young people can thrive and enjoy fantastic sports facilities alongside the wider community. Today is a significant milestone in our journey to ensure pupils continue to receive an excellent standard of education, rooted in Christian values, throughout their school years. We are excited to be one step closer to reaching our goal. This project is a continuation of the Church of England’s commitment to help more children, of all faiths and none, have the best possible start in life.”

Stephanie Bryant, Executive Headteacher of St Mark’s Church of England Primary School, added:

“This is a huge milestone for our school and learning in our city. We’re one step closer to welcoming children of all ages at St Mark’s and it’s exciting to see the build really coming together. We can really envisage how each classroom, hallway and space will look once it’s complete and we can’t wait to welcome our first year 7 students to our school in September 2022.

“Our first secondary school open evening is taking place on 22nd September at 6:30pm and I look forward to celebrating this next step with our local families, prospective new pupils and the community.”

Mark Postill, Head of the Southampton Office of Faithful+Gould said:

“As the professional team chosen to oversee the project management and cost management of the design from inception through to construction of the school we are so proud to be making such a positive impact in our local community and thank all the delivery partners involved with this build for their passion and hard work to get us to this important milestone.

“As well as the incredible facilities that will be created, we have worked hard to ensure that the design and construction processes themselves deliver significant social value to the City of Southampton and it’s communities. We’re really looking forward to the school welcoming its first new students in September 2022.”

The expansion of St Mark’s Church of England School will include a supporting package of transport measures, delivered by the Council’s Strategic Highway Partner, Balfour Beatty Living Places. This package will be designed to enable pupils and staff to walk, cycle or use local bus services when travelling to school plus making it safer and healthier for everyone. The council are also exploring ways to create a more liveable neighbourhood where residents and the school community have greater ease of access to the school, nearby shops and employment hubs.