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It's taken 4 years and more than £30Million pounds, but a project to make a Dorset school more environmentally friendly has been completed.
The new-look Queen Elizabeth's School in Wimborne will be celebrated with an opening ceremony led by the Right Rev Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, on Monday 5th December.
Pupils, staff and governors will be joined by a host of local dignitaries (plus children from their partner school in Mauritius) for the event, which will feature musical and dance performances, presentations and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
Rebuild work started on the site in 2007, after QE come top in a ranking of Dorset secondary schools most needing replacement.
The county council scheme - which has attracted more than £30 million in Government funding - has set a national benchmark for sustainable, environmentally-friendly design. Innovations include woodchip-burning boilers, solar power, rain-water recycling, recycled building materials and low energy usage.
Underground tubes were also installed that pre-cool or pre-heat air before it enters the building, instead of using gas central heating or air conditioning.
An accompanying sustainable education centre (SEC) was also built as part of the project. The timber-framed centre - which is insulated with recycled newspapers, straw bales and sheep's wool - picked up the Environmental Building Award at the 2009 Education Business Awards.
Students from QE and other local schools played a key role in the design of the new campus, which has been selected by the Department for Education as a flagship Sustainability Demonstration Project.
Guests at the opening ceremony are set to include the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, members of the Dorset County Council project board, local council representatives and mayors, Annette Brooke MP, project contractors, local residents and headteachers from other schools in the Wimborne area.
Teachers and pupils from the Beau Bassin State Secondary School in Mauritius will also play a part in the event.
Headteacher Andy Puttock said:
"We are absolutely delighted that so many guests and friends are able to join us for the ceremony. This is a landmark for the school and the whole area, as the new campus will provide us with facilities that are without doubt amongst the best in the whole of the United Kingdom. We are especially pleased that the school is being opened by the Bishop and our friends from Mauritius; tangible symbols of the school's commitment to its church tradition and our belief that education is about making a real positive difference to the lives of young people, both at our own school and elsewhere!"
The school's 1,450 pupils began moving into the new building after the start of the autumn half-term break. Demolition of old classrooms has begun and will be completed in the new year.
Toni Coombs, Dorset County Council Cabinet member for children's services, said:
"I am delighted to see this project reach completion. As with any school, we want to make sure any new buildings are of the highest quality and give children the best possible educational facilities. The Government funding we received for QE gave us the chance to do something different, and this innovative approach was grasped by everyone at the school. The new-look campus is breathtaking, and I'd like to thank everyone who has worked hard to make the initial vision a fantastic reality."