Fulham's Bridge AP Academy Set to Expand and Improve Facilities

Head says school sports hall could be available to the community

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The successful Bridge AP - Alternative Provision - Academy in Finlay Street in Fulham is set to expand, with the local community benefiting from access to new facilities.

H & F Council has earmarked nearly £9million for improved facilities at the educational centre, which is currently classed as "outstanding in all areas" by Ofsted.

The academy specialises in transforming the lives of young people who, for a variety of reasons - including illness - have had their studies interrupted. As a result, the centre has a reputation that draws visitors from around the world to see how it is run.

The plan is to create a rebuilt, refurbished alternative provision academy for its existing students from across the borough, with approximately 30 students currently attending a similar school, Latimer Academy in North Kensington.

A full public consultation will be held about the proposed changes, but Bridge AP Academy executive headteacher Seamus Oates believes it could usher in a new era for both the academy and the community.

"There would be better facilities with part refurbishment and part new-build, giving better resources for our learners and for the wider community," Seamus said. "The plans include a therapeutic suite and sports hall, which would be available for the community to use."

If the plan goes ahead, students currently at the Latimer Academy, managed by Kensington and Chelsea Council, would join students at the Fulham site, with the North Kensington site closed.

More than three-quarters of the £8.6million of funding would be met by K&C's contribution of a sum equivalent to the land value of the Latimer Road site.

"We're keen to utilise the ethos of both schools to create something better," says Seamus. "We're world leaders in this field, and people who visit from overseas are often surprised by what we have already achieved in the old buildings that we have.

"The school is placed well at the moment, with year on year progress higher than the national averages."

Ofsted's most recent inspection in 2013 praised the Bridge AP Academy for making "progress and achievement that far exceed that often found in similar establishments".

It said: " The executive head teacher provides inspirational leadership, while leaders at all levels show an outstanding commitment to the academy and the learners who attend."

November 7, 2014