The College of West Anglia has been enjoying a multi-million pound celebration as it welcomed its first year students into its state-of-the art refurbished tower block.
There was a sense of great pride amongst staff and students as using the new facilities on offer, making the college the envy of most others in the region with 9000sqm of accommodation.
Principal David Pomfret conducted a media briefing at the very top where the Skyline conference rooms enjoy stunning views over the town with its base 100ft above ground level.
It gave the principal the chance to talk about the fantastic achievements which have seen the college awarded the “good” status in every one of the 30 sections reviewed by Ofsted.
But probably the proudest person was Mark Reavell, executive director partnerships, who has masterminded every stage of the refurbishment over the past two years and four months, with students and staff being welcomed back from temporary locations.
The original building was opened by the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in the 1970s and has undergone complete modernization inside and out creating a building fit for the 21st century. The nine-storey centre offers state-of-the-art facilities, including science laboratories, Hi-tech IT suites, higher education centre, conference facilities for hire, learning resource centre as well as a new heating and cooling exchange system which maintains a set pleasant 21 C all year round.
One area which now sets it apart is the ground floor social area which has seating for 400 providing a bright and airy social space with Wi-Fi, restaurant and even a Costa Coffee.
“This is £13m well spent,” said Mr. Reavell.
The new science floor won glowing praise from biology teacher Rebecca Holland, who has been at the college for ten years.
She said: “This will make a huge difference. It gives the best quality of everything.”
“I am really impressed by the laboratories.”
Bright decoration and modern furniture give the building real student appeal.
The IT area has some 40 computers and the floor featuring the learning resource centre has over 50,000 books, internet access, study pods and two study rooms.
Mr. Reavell said the ground floor social area was really exciting.
“It is a really stunning facility. Students who were here last year can’t believe that they are sitting in it.”
A huge amount of preparation had to be undertaken before any building work took place, with £1.2m being spent just clearing asbestos and other waste materials.
The finished building has already made a big impression on students in their first week.
Liam Hall, 16, from St Germans, who is studying engineering, said: “It looks pretty good. The social area is useful to study outside of lessons.”
Principal David Pomfret reflected on all the college was continuing to achieve and its success with apprenticeships reaching 1,119, its Ofsted ‘Good’ rating and its 30 million development programme across all campuses. He said: “I am delighted with the high quality of teaching and learning at the college.”
It now makes the building alone the same size of an average sixth form college and there are still opportunities for students to enrol on courses in 2013/14. Visit the college’s website at www.cwa.ac.uk