A new lease of life for Whitcliffe Mount School
Whitcliffe Mount’s purpose is very clear: Enjoy. Achieve. Celebrate. That passion to create a positive environment, opportunities to succeed, and the chance to reflect on what has been accomplished, defines the state-of-the-art school – as the headteacher, Miss Jennifer Templar, says: “it runs through everything we do”.
It’s an exciting new era for Whitcliffe Mount. Under the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP), the mixed secondary school has been completely re-developed and re-opened in September 2017. The impressive, purpose-built facility not only provides a new, contemporary school for its 1,250-strong student base, but it’s replaced an ageing sports centre that stood on the school grounds for many years.
As part of the multi-million-pound project, Whitcliffe Mount can now offer premium, school-wide facilities to students and the local community that range from The Vibe – an impressive sports block, complete with a fitness suite, sports hall, drama and dance studios – to a multi-use games area outside. In addition, it boasts a large theatre with tiered seating, specialist computing rooms, technology workshops, food rooms and science labs.
It’s fair to say that the extensive building project has produced an exceptional educational and leisure facility ripe for community engagement. However, the old – and widely used – sports centre was knocked down early on in the construction process, leaving the community short of a similar provision. “The building was previously run by Kirklees Council but, as part of the Government’s investment programme, the new facility has to act as a hub for the local community, as well as the school,” says Whitcliffe Mount business manager, Heidi Newburn. “After a long period of closure [as part of the re-development], our aim is to encourage the community back to the site.”
In February 2018, Whitcliffe Mount took the decision to partner with School Lettings Solutions (SLS). Heidi comments: “One of the main reasons for bringing SLS onboard was their ability to engage with the local community and encourage them to use facilities available to them.
“As the previous sports centre was Council-run, as a school we didn’t have the experience of managing a facility like this. Without the time to invest in running it properly, we decided that SLS was better placed to do it on the school’s behalf.”
“A real strength of the school is the range of extra-curricular activities the students experience during their time with us,” says Miss Templar on the school’s website. SLS now has the ability to expand on that strength for the benefit of the entire community – providing facilities that can cater for anything from sports, drama, business meetings, birthday parties and conferences.
“The whole school is available for hire,” adds Heidi. “SLS can let out every part of the building, from classrooms to the sports hall.” To date, local dance, theatre, netball, five-a-side, basketball and football groups, have taken advantage of the state-of-the-art facilities in Cleckheaton. Over the last six to nine months, Whitcliffe Mount has seen an increased number of groups utilising the multi-million-pound site. “It’s really busy and the school is really well used,” says Heidi. “It’s been fantastic for us and the relationship with SLS is not only working extremely well for the school, but also the local community.”
Whitcliffe Mount has a ‘relentless focus on continual improvement’. SLS now has the ability to tap into that unwavering school ethos for the benefit of out-of-hours provision in the area.