New secondary school that will be the biggest in Milton Keynes will open early next year

The new 1,800-pupil Watling Academy school will completed early in 2021, the council has announced.

By Sally Murrer
Thursday, 13th August 2020, 12:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th August 2020, 12:46 pm

But 180 Year 7 pupils will begin classes this September from a purpose-built site at Fairfields Primary School.

Fairfields, an existing primary school was remodelled to create teaching and socialising spaces for some of the secondary age pupils and their teachers who will move into the new Watling Academy school building early next year.

The new Watling Academy will be MK’s largest secondary school, creating 1,800 school spaces and covering a 10.88 hectare site in the Whitehouse development area.

Artist's impression of the new school

Construction began last September on a large three-storey block with separate sports facilities including playing fields, sports pitches and expansive car and cycle parking. The main building and all facilities are expected to be finished early next year.

Pupils at Watling Academy will begin their secondary education on the top floor of Fairfields Primary in new facilities designed for their needs. Milton Keynes Council has worked closely with the leaders of Watling Academy and nearby Fairfields Primary School to create this space.

The council has invested in specialist rooms for Fairfield Primary School including science labs, food technology, music and IT facilities. The remodelling works that have been undertaken at the primary school will ensure that both schools have separate access points and their own teaching and social spaces. Both Academies have worked together to avoid any clashes of pupils on the timetable.

Council Leader Pete Marland said: “The level of cooperation and support between Academy Trusts and Milton Keynes Council to make sure Watling Academy can welcome pupils this year has been incredible. It’s meant we’ve been able to give these pupils a great start to their secondary education. As we look toward the completion of a major new school for MK, the enhancements made to Fairfields Primary School will continue to benefit pupils for years to come.”

Council leader Pete Marland (left) with headteacher Ian Bacon

Ian Bacon, Head of School at Watling Academy said: “Once we knew of the delay to the main build, utilising the facilities and link with Fairfields, which will be one of our main feeder schools, seemed absolutely the right step to take. I am sure that the top-quality facilities installed by the Council will give our first ever cohort of Watling students the best start to their secondary education in advance of moving into the main build.

"I am also certain that the partnership we have built up with Fairfields along the way will pay dividends for everyone concerned, most importantly the children, who not only will have access to great facilities but will be able to experience first-hand the outstanding Care, Education and Opportunity offered at Watling Academy. I am extremely grateful to the council and to the leadership team at Fairfields for all the hard work that has gone into getting us to this point.”

Matthew Shotton, Head Teacher at Fairfields Primary School said: “We’re excited to welcome year 7 students of Watling Academy in September. Throughout the year, MK Council, Fairfields and Watling, have worked closely and effectively to ensure the successful opening of the school. The school is looking amazing with all the new and improved facilities, and I believe this will only prove to be a positive for the Fairfields and Whitehouse community.”

Watling Academy is part of MK based Denbigh Alliance Multi-Academy Trust.

Milton Keynes Council has committed to ensuring there is a good school place ready for every child. Since 2014, it has built five new schools and expanded 16 school others to support an increase of 2,300 pupils in Milton Keynes.