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Published 11th Oct 2011

Pupils at Priory Woods welcome a royal visitor

Middlesbrough pupils welcomed a royal guest of honour to officially open their new schools.

His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester, officially opened Acklam Grange, Ormesby and Priory Woods schools on Tuesday.

The Duke of Gloucester, who is the Queen’s cousin, received a very warm welcome from the pupils who prepared a varied programme of activities to entertain and inform their royal guest about life at their schools.

The new school buildings were built as part of Middlesbrough Council’s Building Schools for the Future programme.

The Duke of Gloucester was greeted at Acklam Grange by dignitaries including the school’s chair of governors Hazel Pearson OBE, headteacher Andrea Crawshaw, Middlesbrough Council's Chief Executive Ian Parker and Councillor Mike Carr, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Children, Families and Learning.

During his tour of the school His Royal Highness was shown the school’s most unusual classroom - the Geodesic Dome - which the school paid for with prize money for winning the Dott 07 sustainable design initiative.

Pupils told HRH how they learn about environmental issues through their work in the dome and how it provides a base for growing, lessons on working with structures and running an interactive weather station.

Pupils also told HRH about the Meserani Project, a charity run by the pupils, staff, parents and friends of the school. It brings together young people from Africa and Teesside and has helped rebuild three primary schools, support three secondary schools and six primary schools and sponsor 56 pupils through education in Tanzania.

The Duke saw a dance performance and unveiled a plaque to formally open the school.

Acklam Grange, a 1,400 place secondary school with a specialism in maths and computing, was the first school in the BSF programme and its design is based on the idea of a learning campus with six blocks set around a central courtyard.

At Ormesby Priory Woods His Royal Highness was greeted by Bernadette Knill, headteacher of Priory Woods, and James Ruddock, chair of governors for Ormesby.

Priory Woods is a special performing arts school and college providing education for 150 students with physical and learning disabilities and includes a hydrotherapy pool, sensory rooms and gardens.

Ormesby and Priory Woods share a central heart which contains the hall and dining areas, learning resource centre and therapy facilities. This area is where the students mix on a daily basis, working together on projects and in their free time.

On his tour of Priory Woods HRH saw Priory Woods pupils using the school’s state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool. The pool has become a vital part of the school enabling pupils to gain water confidence, exercise and therapy for those with physical difficulties.

Keen photographer Michael Pearson, 17, a Priory Woods pupil who has attended the school since he was four, took photos of the visit.

Ormesby is a mainstream engineering specialist secondary school for 850 students. Ormesby students will show HRH an exciting engineering project they have been working on - the building of a Caterham 7 sports car.

The students along with assistant headteacher Chris Higgins have worked over four months to finish the project ahead of schedule. All students involved have been on a track day at a local circuit where the car performed faultlessly.

The Duke saw a joint singing performance with Ormesby and Priory Woods pupils at the end of the tour.

Michael Pearson said everyone at Priory Woods and Ormesby had enjoyed the royal visit. “It was brilliant, really exciting,” he said.

Useful links

Middlesbrough Council: Building Schools for the Future

Love Middlesbrough: Key Strengths - Royal heritage



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