Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council met pupils from Greatfields School in Barking this week to see how they were settling into their newly completed classrooms this week.
Students moved into a £23 million building which forms the main part of the secondary school which is at the heart of the Gascoigne neighbourhood.
The new building covers 10,000 square metres and includes 50 new classrooms, a main hall, sports hall, library, office and administration space.
Cllr Rodwell said: “It’s fantastic to see the building of Greatfields Secondary School completed and a real pleasure to meet the students.
“Visiting Greatfields today in the heart of the new Gascoigne reinforces a truism that a great school makes a great place.”
Cllr Rodwell met Head Teacher Richard Paul and pupils who helped design a ‘meanwhile park’, as part of an engagement project run by Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm.
Richard Paul said: “We are absolutely delighted to have moved into this fantastic new building and there is a sense of pride amongst staff, students and parents that we have such a wonderful building in the heart of the community.
“The new facilities will give our young people access to opportunities they have not previously had, including a state-of-the-art library, sports hall, dance and drama studios, and we look forward to welcoming the community to share these facilities with us.
“We are also delighted that our young people are being given a voice in the design of some of the spaces within the neighbourhood – it is their community after all.”
Sadia Ur-Rehman, Community Engagement Lead at Be First, said: “This project has been really important to us to ensure young people are part of the changes that are happening in their neighbourhood. We want to create spaces that young people want to see and be in.
“During the process, the students have provided us with new perspectives on the place where they live. They have been a source of inspiration and ideas to reinvent a space that will be used by all ages in the community.”
Greatfields School was built by Mid-Group on behalf of the Barking and Dagenham Council and Thames Learning Partnership. Funding was provided by the council and the DfE. Mid Group embraced new technologies to design and build the new school to produce a minimal carbon footprint.
Steve Hearn of CEO of Mid-Group said: “We’re proud to have been part of the Greatfields project which is an inspirational school in the heart of one of the most inspirational and go-ahead boroughs in London.”
The redevelopment of the Gascoigne neighbourhood will see the delivery of over 2,100 new homes. It will be among the greenest, most liveable places in London and will feature great affordable homes, new treelined roads and courtyards safe for pedestrians and cyclists.
The neighbourhood is modelled on a ‘15-minute neighbourhood’, meaning residents have all the transport, retail, educational and leisure facilities, and opportunities they need within a short stroll.
Cllr Rodwell said: “Building the new Gascoigne is not just about bricks and mortar – it’s about hearts and minds. It’s about building a better neighbourhood for all.”