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The Bishop’s Stortford High School’s new campus has been officially ‘topped out’

The Bishop’s Stortford High School’s new campus has been officially “topped out” as students and staff look forward to moving in next year.

Head Dale Reeve, chair of governors Alan Fordham and the senior leadership from the London Road secondary were joined for the ceremony at St James’ Park – half a mile away from their current home – by members of Hertfordshire County Council, Bishop’s Stortford mayor Cllr Richard Townsend and other dignitaries.

It marks the last piece of concrete required to complete the shell of the building – from now on, contractors will concentrate on internal work.

Topping out of the new Bishop’s Stortford High School
Topping out of the new Bishop’s Stortford High School

The project began in September 2021 and hopes were high that it would be completed by November 2022, with the classrooms ready for students by January this year.

However, problems including the discovery of underground streams delayed progress and ramped up the cost of the £45m scheme.

The new completion date has been set for next summer, and Mr Reeve said: “After significant delay, to have reached the topping-out stage is very exciting.

The new campus takes shape
The new campus takes shape

“The framework of the new school is finally in place and we can focus on some of the finer details, followed by the logistics involved in relocating the school.

“I am extremely grateful to all those who have played a part in getting the project to this stage. We know our students get a fantastic deal already, and to have the facilities and learning environment to match will be wonderful.”

Currently, the school, rated outstanding by Ofsted, has a roll of about 1,200 students with single-sex education for boys in Years 7 to 11 and a co-educational sixth form where a third of the pupils are girls.

The new campus will increase capacity, enabling the secondary to admit 180 pupils a year – six forms of entry (6FE) – rather than the current maximum of 156. That means 900 pupils in Years 7 to 11 and 400 sixth-formers with the potential to expand in future to support the proposed scale of new housing in the area.

The frame of the building is complete
The frame of the building is complete

The relocated school is a key part of housebuilder Countryside's plans for its 750-home St James' Park estate, formerly known as Bishop's Stortford South.

The relocation will clear the way for new homes to be built on TBSHS’s redundant London Road site. Originally, 150 were planned but this was increased to more than 200 after plans to expand Thorley Hill Primary were ditched in favour of a new primary at St James' Park. That increased the land available to 6 hectares (14.8 acres).

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