£1.6m centre of creativity opens ty

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Creativity will abound in a new £1.6m centre for expressive arts at Ashlawn School in Rugby.

Staff bid for the money from the Government last year – and were delighted to be awarded the grant.

And now, students can take advantage of new facilities designed to bring their dreams and visions to reality.

The ground floor offers two large drama rooms both including professional lighting rigs. It has a wall which can be folded to make one large space and it is equipped with a 10m x 10m dance studio boasting a sprung floor, mirrors, professional lights and state-of-the-art sound system.

Assistant headteacher Steve Taylor said: “It is great that we can bring together in one new facility such excellent resources as well as our outstanding expressive arts teachers and students. This is a fantastic opportunity and it will be another creative hub to the school. Ashlawn goes from strength to strength.”

On the first floor are two large teaching rooms, four practice rooms and a recording studio, and on the second floor there is office space and three large interconnecting art rooms filled with natural daylight - as well as a professional dark room.

The rooms vacated by the expressive arts departments will be used to teach other subjects, while there will also be a multi-purpose gym and extension to the dining hall that can double up as a learning space and additional sixth form study centre.

The building was opened on Thursday last week and is already proving popular with staff. Music teacher Jen Windebank said: “It is brilliant that the expressive arts subjects can come together in such a brand new and well-resourced building.”

Sharron Newman, a member of the cleaning staff, said: “It’s a beautiful new building - absolutely cracking!”

The school’s children appear equally impressed.

Sunita Parmar, a Year 10 student, said: “There are lots of fantastic new resources that will help us in our GCSEs. It’s so exciting.”

And Evie Allison, a Year 8 student, thinks it’s a good time to be at Ashlawn School. She said: “I am very proud to be part of the expressive arts group and I can’t wait to use all of the amazing equipment. ”

Ashlawn was rated ‘outstanding’ - the highest possible on a four-point scale - by Ofsted inspectors in 2007. It became an ‘academy’ in 2011, giving it more control of how its money is spent, An ‘interim assessment’ by Ofsted in 2011 stated that its “performance has been sustained”.

The school, in Ashlawn Road, has about 1,700 pupils.