Yesterday the Governors of the Archer Academy held our last meeting of the academic year at our new premises in Stanley Road. It was a poignant moment to tour the fantastic new site and see the wonderful teaching spaces and the sports facilities that have replaced the disused playing fields and warehouse stores that were there before.
It was amazing to remember that this time three years ago the Department for Education had just given us approval to proceed to opening. We had no staff, no site and no students – just a vision and a firm belief that a local school for local children would benefit the entire community.
Now we have close to 100 staff, not one but two fabulous sites and an Ofsted report that recognised the excellent progress we have made and the solid foundations we have for the future.
We’ve been open less than two years but it feels, from my point of view at least, that the school has already become firmly established in the fabric of the local community. And when our Stanley Road site opens its doors in September to our students and to the local community I have no doubt that it will embed the Archer further still into the heart of East Finchley.
Given that one of tenets of our founding vision is based on engaging with our community – contributing to creating and sustaining an inclusive, thriving local area – this is extremely important to me and the other governors. Stanley Road is a wonderful example of how the school can add to the local area through the provision of new sports and leisure facilities. A derelict piece of land – what had once been a playing field but frequented solely by dog walkers in recent years – was transformed into an all-weather sports pitch, a sports hall with an climbing wall (fully accessible to enable disabled people to use it), rehearsal space, recording studio and a range of other community facilities. These will be available to the local community outside of school hours. Judging by the interest from local sports clubs and community groups there should be no shortage of local use.
The site is protected for community use in perpetuity – and this is something we have written into the agreements with the council and Sport England (as part of the site was – at least in theory – designated playing fields).
Looking at the architect’s impressions and ‘fly-through’ of the building which were produced around two years ago…
…it’s incredible to now be able to work around the building and the grounds and see it finished.
The dream has become a reality.