December 11, 2023

Work starts on new pre-school to sixth form education campus in Cambridgeshire

Construction work has recently commenced on a major expansion of Northstowe Secondary College and the creation of a brand new sixth form, 630-place primary school and pre-school in one of the UK’s most significant emerging towns.

The new buildings will see the provision of pre-school through to sixth form education on a single site, benefitting the growing student population as Northstowe continues to develop.

(L-R): Cllr Michael Atkins (Cambridgeshire County Council), Lesley Birch (Deputy CEO of Meridian Trust), Philip Harker (Assistant Director – Development Services at Homes England), Carole Moss (Headteacher at Northstowe Secondary College), Matthew Brown (Head of Large Sites at Homes England), Dennis Cotton (Regional Director for Kier Construction Cambridge & Rushden), Sarah Mason (Senior Business Development Manager at Kier Construction in the Eastern & Midlands), Lee Collins (Senior Project Manager at Kier Group).

The works will include an expansion of the existing secondary school to provide an additional 600 places, a new sixth form offering 400 places which will include SEND provision, a new pre-school offering 156 half-day places, and a primary school for 630 pupils.

Following substantial land and financial contributions which have enabled two high-quality occupied schools in Northstowe, government land and funding provided by Homes England, the government’s housing and regeneration agency, is now helping to make way for the latest new infrastructure adjacent to the first phase of Northstowe Secondary College.

Cambridgeshire County Council is managing the major development, with construction partner, Kier, leading on the design and build of the facilities. Meridian Trust, which operates Northstowe Secondary College and Martin Bacon Academy, will lead on education provision at the primary school, existing secondary school, and sixth form. The Trust supports 30 schools across Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, and Lincolnshire, including the new Weldon Village Academy in Corby.

Matthew Brown, head of large sites at Homes England, said: “This is a major milestone for Northstowe, marking a significant step forward in the town’s journey and making way for the next generation of learners in the local area.

“Cambridgeshire is renowned for its educational prowess, and Northstowe Learning Community will provide further inspirational learning facilities that enable the growing local community to access quality education on their doorstep and thrive.”

Cllr Bryony Goodliffe, Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee, commented: “I am delighted work has started on this significant new campus. The education of our children and young people is at the heart of what we do, and this complex of schools and learning centres will enable the County Council – together with its partners – to deliver our ambitions for Northstowe.”

Carole Moss, Headteacher of Northstowe Secondary College, said: “The start of these works heralds an exciting new chapter for all of us in the Northstowe Learning Community and our wider colleagues across Meridian Trust. We’re so proud of the achievements we have already made and the wonderful communities we have built at Northstowe Secondary College and Martin Bacon Academy and we cannot wait to see the impact this new development will have. The introduction of the new primary school and sixth form will allow us to make our Northstowe Learning Community a truly unique all-through experience, offering a smooth and inclusive transition and a consistent level of high-quality education throughout every life stage.”  

Dennis Cotton, regional director for Kier Construction Cambridge & Rushden, said: “Using our extensive experience of building high quality schools in Northstowe and across the UK, we are proud to design and deliver this new, state-of-the-art learning centre for the local student community. Kier has completed construction on Phase 1 of the project and we look forward to working closely with Cambridgeshire County Council and Meridian Trust as we continue to create an innovative space where students will be inspired to learn.”  

Construction of the new state-of-the-art education facilities follows several community aspects across the wider, emerging town coming to fruition, or making significant progress, including:

  • A new Temporary Community Building on The Green provided by South Cambridgeshire District Council, which includes a community café funded by Kickstarter Funding and Northstowe Foodies, rooms for community groups to socialise, office space, and an NHS room. Space to enable the community to come together was previously housed in the Wing at Pathfinder Primary School – now run by the local Community Interest Company, Northstowe Hub. A permanent building is making its way through the planning stages.
  • A new Sports Pavilion, supporting the Western Park sports pitches, bowling green and the hard surface games area. The Pavilion will provide a café, team and referee changing, a fully accessible changing places facility and a large clubroom area and kitchen. The green design includes an air source heat pump to provide heating and hot water for the building, plus solar panels on the roof.
  • Planning permission submitted for preparation work to construct the Eastern Sports Hub complex – for planned facilities such as a cricket pitch, football pitches and a BMX track.
  • Open and occupied schools including the Pathfinder Primary School (opened 2017) and Northstowe Secondary College and Martin Bacon Academy (opened 2019). Martin Bacon Academy caters for children and young people aged 3 to 19 who have a range of complex and significant learning needs.
  • Two additional lakes, featuring extensive walkways, cycleways, and resting spots, alongside extensive walking and cycling routes connecting to sustainable transport options including the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.
  • An internal bus-lane and cycle-lane network under construction enabling direct and off-road journeys in and around the town.
  • Keepmoat Homes has a commercial unit and equipped play area as part of their 300-home development currently under development.

Phase one, developed by L&Q, features 1,500 homes and a new primary school, land for commercial and leisure. Thousands of people already call Northstowe home, using the schools and community facilities, and many getting involved in community activity at a grassroots level. A Town Council is also established at Northstowe, led by community leaders and residents.

Homes England is responsible for delivering phases two and three at Northstowe as master developer; over the next 20 years, the former-RAF airfield site and surrounding land under their remit will be transformed into a thriving new town community which, when added to phase one, will total around 25,000 people and provide 10,000 new homes to the local area and multiple high-quality community facilities all carefully knitted together with natural assets and a town centre.