Network Norwich and Norfolk > Regional News > News Archive > Young People Archive > News about Norwich Academy

Please see articles below on the developments of the Norwich Academy.


Vision of future for new Norwich Academy

Students of Norfolk's first academy, backed by two Christian sponsors, have been given their first glimpse of how the new £21m building will look.

With vast classrooms and lecture halls and environmentally-friendly features including solar thermal water heating and rainwater harvesting, this vision of the Open Academy in Heartsease in Norwich could welcome its first pupils in two years.

The proposals have drawn heavily on the vision of sponsors Graham Dacre and the Rt Rev Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich, and include a facility for car and motorcycle maintenance, called Open Road, and a purpose-built beauty salon, called Open Face, both part of the academy's enterprise culture.

The county council is responsible for overseeing the design and build of the academy and, in conjunction with the sponsors, has chosen Kier Education as the preferred building developer and Kier Eastern as the building contractor.

OpenAcademyArtist3WebIts many green credentials will be in line with the academy's specialism in environment and engineering.

These include a timber structure, biomass boilers which burn wood pellets or wood chip, movement and daylight-sensitive light and water- saving controls, zoned heating, rainwater harvesting and solar thermal water heating.

The timber frame will save 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, compared to traditional concrete or steel structures, and for every three trees used in the building, four will be planted.

Lisa Christensen, director of children's services, said: "There were two fabulous designs on offer - and the passion and thoughtfulness that had gone into the proposals was awe-inspiring. It is great to see that the current students at Heartsease had been involved in putting forward their views and ideas. I am sure the new academy will lift the whole area and provide a wonderful learning and community environment."

The sponsors, in a joint statement, said: "We wanted the design to reflect the environment and engineering specialism for the school and we are delighted that the winning design incorporates a sustainable aspect wherever possible. It will be exciting to watch the development and we know everyone will look forward to moving into the new buildings on completion of the project."
Other features of the three-storey building include a forum that can be used for whole academy assemblies, celebrations, music and community events, as well as to provide additional dining-room space.
There will be a lecture/drama theatre with retractable seating for 190 people. On the top floor there will be a sixth-form area with an enterprise zone including a work-related learning space and boardroom. 'Outdoor classrooms' will provide opportunities for learning about the environment.

The county council's cabinet agreed in January that Heartsease High School should be closed to make way for a new academy.

Jennifer Chamberlin, deputy cabinet member for schools, said: "The new academy will provide a whole range of opportunities for students living in the Heartsease area. These first-class facilities highlight how much these students are valued and should help to raise their aspirations for the future."

Lindsay Knight, former head-teacher of Heartsease High who will lead the new academy as its principal, said: "The design also allows for a strong focus on vocational education, with plans for showcase engineering workshops, a professional-style catering teaching space and beauty-salon facilities. It means the vocational studies can work well alongside the academic side."

The Open Academy will welcome students back into the existing Heartsease High buildings in September but with a new ethos, new uniform and changes around the existing building. It will then transfer to the new buildings in 2010, when the buildings are handed over to the academy trust.

Pictured above and below are artist's impressions of how the new Open Academy buildings will look.

Story courtesy of





Norfolk Council backs Norwich academy plan

Norfolk's first academy school is on the brink of reality after Norfolk County Council backed the £20m plan for Heartsease High School in Norwich.

The Council's cabinet voted on Monday October 8 to approve the plan for the academy, sponsored by the Bishop of Norwich (pictured below) and Christian entrepreneur Graham Dacre - paving the way for the government to rubber-stamp it by the end of the year.

The decision came despite 11th-hour pleas by two governors of the current school, who said the proposal was not supported by the current students or the local community.

Rosalie Monbiot, cabinet member for children's services at the council, made an impassioned speech, urging her colleagues to back the plan.

She said: “This school is very ably led and has some excellent staff, but it has struggled for 10 years. It's still only two-thirds full. Children walk past Heartsease to go to other schools.

“Everyone has worked hard, but sadly we haven't been able to achieve the results we want. This opportunity to put £20m into the community will regenerate the community.

“Why shouldn't we give teachers improved facilities and better IT? Let's give the children the wow factor. A superb new building will inspire them and encourage them to stay on to get qualifications. We want these children and this community to do well.”

George Nobbs, member for the Crome ward, which includes Heartsease High, said: “It would have been very easy to oppose this, but it would have been wrong. I would've been condemning the people in my ward to being at the back of the queue.”

Cabinet members were strongly behind the plan for Norfolk's first academy, which could be followed by four or five others, including one at The Park High in King's Lynn.

John Gretton said the proposal offered “real educational diversity, rather than uniformity of state education”.

Christopher How said: “The capital investment in an academy in Heartsease will have a significant effect on raising community cohesion and remove and alleviate some of the social problems that blight the area.”

After the meeting, Labour schools spokesman Peter Harwood said the party was planning to “call in” the decision for scrutiny, in particular to challenge the accuracy and transparency of the recent public consultation - which saw 62pc of just 258 respondents voting in favour of the academy.

He said: “The narrow focus of the exercise was clearly about selling the case for the academy to the Heartsease community at the cost of skimping over the possible adverse impact to the other schools in the area.”

Sue Burnett-Thomas, one of the current school's governing body, which voted to oppose the change, said: “I'm disappointed that the views of the school community haven't been fully taken into account. If this goes ahead, I wonder what will happen to the children who are currently at the school.”

Colin Collis, Norfolk secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: “Based on the bribery and pressure from the government, it's hardly surprising that this decision was taken.

“The fundamental question is whether the sponsors can deliver for the children at the school and for my members in the school.”

If the government gives the academy the go-ahead, it will open in the existing school in September 2008, then in the new building by September 2010.
Story courtesy of

Leading headmaster backs Christian Academy 

JimHawkinsThe headmaster of a leading Norwich independent school has publicly backed plans to establish a Christian-based Academy at Heartsease in Norwich.
Jim Hawkins (pictured right) , head of Norwich School, has backed the plans proposed by the Bishop of Norwich and local Christian philanthropist and entrepreneur Graham Dacre and said its Christian ethos will be crucial to its success.
“We need schools that have a strong ethos and sense of ambition and I welcome what I have seen in the Heartsease plans,” said Mr Hawkins, in a letter to the EDP.
“A new academy of this type would complement our family of schools in Norwich and widen the opportunities for our boys and girls.
“The traditional Christian values that its founders wish to be at its centre will, in my view, be crucial to its success.
“They are also right to adopt a conventional curriculum and avoid a dogmatic style of education. Despite these assurances, some sceptics seem to be unnerved by any talk of Christianity – as if Christian values are in some way undesirable.
“But many of our nation’s leading state and independent schools were built upon and still benefit from Christian foundations,” said Mr Hawkins. “This is a reliable, tried and tested way of establishing schools that will last and serve their communities well.
“The investment, spiritual and financial, proposed by the Bishop of Norwich and Graham Dacre resonates with the great tradition of philanthropy that has provided so much for our educational institutions in the past. In the interests of our young people, particularly those in the Heartsease area, I hope that their project succeeds.”
A consultation of public views on the proposed Academy closes on September 21. You can have your say at:



Governors oppose Norwich academy plan

The debate over a controversial £20m academy plan on the site of a Norwich school heated up last night (September 12) as governors at the existing school voted to oppose it.

The governing body of Heartsease High voted against closure of the school and opposed its replacement with Norfolk's first academy.

Their move, debated earlier this week and believed to have been confirmed at a meeting last night, came as the countdown to decision day for local councillors on the scheme entered its final four weeks.

On October 8, Norfolk County Council's cabinet will decide whether or not to close Heartsease High and press ahead with its replacement with the academy - sponsored by local Christian businessman Graham Dacre (pictured right below)and the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James (pictured right above).

If members back the move, a report will go to either education secretary Ed Balls or schools minister Andrew Adonis for a final decision, which would be likely by Christmas.

The vote by governors carries no legal weight, but could have an influence on the opinion of parents and people in the local community as the public consultation period on whether to close Heartsease High ends.

The exercise closes on September 21, after which people's opinions will no longer be taken into account. Council officers will then compile a report to go before cabinet on October 8.

Last night Fred Corbett, the council's deputy director of education, said he would be “disappointed” if it was confirmed that the governors had voted to oppose the academy project.

He said: “This is a great opportunity for the community around Heartsease High. If the decision goes against the academy this time round, I think that will be Heartsease's chance gone. I don't think the government will support another bid.”

Mr Corbett said the reality was that the Heartsease academy proposal would be the first of many in Norfolk, with the government encouraging local authorities to put forward schemes as part of their bids for Building Schools for the Future (BSF) money.

BSF is a multi-billion pound nationwide scheme to rebuild or refurbish every secondary school in the country.

Norfolk is currently drawing up plans for its submission to the government on BSF, which will determine how much money it gets and when it receives it.

To take part in the consultation on the Heartsease academy plan, visit, email  or write to Heartsease High School Consultation, Freepost, IH 2076, Martineau Lane, Norwich, NR1 2BR.
Article courtesy of

Heartsease academy debate goes public

The Christian sponsors behind a proposed £22m academy in Norwich have faced the public and pleaded with parents and the community to “give them a chance” to reinvigorate children's education in Heartsease.

However, despite reassurances that the Christian businessman and Bishop behind the Heartsease academy have the very best of intentions, parents, teachers and community representatives gathered at a public meeting to discuss the plans said they still have concerns and called for more openness and information.

GrahamDacreNorwich businessman Graham Dacre (pictured right), who is offering to donate £1.95m of the total £2m sponsorship, told the 150 people at this week’s meeting (June 12) meeting that a new environmentally friendly building would “overcome the concerns of the students who see this place as ugly and grey” and become “attractive, motivational and inspiring”.

He made three promises to parents: not to ever try to turn the proposed academy into a faith school, that it would continue to teach religious education according to the current Norfolk syllabus, and that the school's current admission policy would continue to apply.

Mr Dacre said: “Give us a chance. We will do all that is possible to ensure your children's greatest chance of success.”

GrahamJamesThe other sponsor, the Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich (pictured right), told parents: “We want young people in this area to believe they are greatly valued and that society is willing to invest substantially in their education.”

If accepted, the new academy would open in September, 2008, using the existing buildings at Heartsease.

Work on creating a new school building adjacent to the existing site would start in July, 2009, in time for the new school to open in September, 2010.

The academy would cater for 950 young people from the ages of 11 to 18, with priority places going to young people living in the existing Heartsease High School catchment area.

Parents at the meeting said they still had fears that if the academy were successful it could became over-subscribed and could lead to a form of selection and a two-tier education system.

Michelle Paton, who visits Heartsease High in her work with children in care, said she felt Heartsease was one of the best schools she had visited and asked why the school could not be given the money and remain under the remit of the local authority.

The panel responded that it was a government initiative which required £2m sponsorship to secure the extra £20m and there was no other way to obtain the money.

One main sticking point was the governing body of the new academy, with people expressing concerns that there would only need to be appointed just one parent, one teacher and one local authority representative.

Parents questioned how they were supposed to respond to the public consultation without seeing the “education brief”, which is currently being drawn up but will not be made public for several weeks yet.

Parent Sarah Leighton expressed doubts of the school's proposed “Christian ethos” and said there was a wide interpretation of this, for example right-wing American fundamentalists may take a different view to other Christians.

The plans have split the community and Norwich's two MPs, with Dr Ian Gibson, Norwich North representative, rallying against it and Charles Clarke, Norwich South and former education secretary, in favour.
The next public meeting is at The Canary, in Watling Road, on June 20 at 7.30pm.

The results from the consultations will feed into a feasibility study to be handed to the Secretary of State at the end of September, who will decide whether the academy should go ahead.

Anyone from the local community or with an interest in the proposal is invited to comment by the deadline of August 20.
People can comment on the plan on 0845 603 8082, by e-mail at  or write to Heartsease Academy Public Consultation, Planet Publications Ltd, Clifton Court, 48 High Street, Newport Pagnell MK16 8AQ.
More information on the proposals and consultation, plus a questionnaire can be found at

Your chance to vote on Heartsease academy

AcademyWebsiteIt’s make or break time in the debate over a proposed academy-style school at Heartsease in Norwich which is being backed by the Bishop of Norwich and Christian entrepreneur Graham Dacre.
Parents and other interested people are being given the chance to have their say in an independent public consultation which has just been launched.
A public consultation on behalf of the sponsors and the Government began on Monday, May 21, with questionnaires sent to 30,000 people living in the school's catchment area and its feeder schools. This will continue until August 20.

Norfolk County Council also has to carry out a consultation on the proposal to replace the existing school, and its consultation will run from June 11 to September 31.

The questionnaire will ask parents and others to pick one of two options: keep Heartsease High School open as it is, with between 500 and 600 students and specialising in engineering, and support its current improvements; or close Heartsease High School and replace it with an academy, growing to 950 students, specialising in engineering and in the environment and support further improvements in performance.

The academy proposals would mean that, in exchange for up to £2m, private sponsors, including the Bishop of Norwich (pictured right) and local Christian entrepreneur and philanthropist Graham Dacre (pictured below), will help set the school's ethos and appoint the governors.
The sponsors say: “We consider the opportunity to support an Academy in Heartsease as an act of Christian service. This derives from our faith that the love of God should be seen in our lives, and that we should care for and seek to serve others. Equally, we regard it as a privilege to invest time and energy extending the best possible start to each and every young person, of all faiths and none, raised or living in Heartsease.
“We believe in the unique worth of each child, in their innate dignity and creativity, and in their potential and need to develop their individual gifts and talents.  We therefore want to build an academy that will provide the finest learning environment we can, with unrivalled opportunities for learning and personal development, under an umbrella of respect, understanding and pastoral care.
GrahamDacre“Our vision is to ensure that each child grows in self-confidence and self-esteem, has the greatest opportunity to achieve their goals and dreams, and are given the very best possible start in life.

Opponents fear pupils would have to follow a Christian ethos, that the school would not be accountable and that standards would drop. But supporters of the academy say it will improve standards and people from all faiths will be welcome.

Norwich North MP Ian Gibson (pictured below), who is opposed to the plans, said: "The real question being asked should be, what will the academy bring that the school is not developing on its own now?

IanGibson"Isn't the Christian ethic being taught there now and aren't students improving? The way it's asked is very biased. It's saying that only the academy will give you all these things - do you want it?"
The academy sponsors say that religious education would continue to be taught from the “Norfolk Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education” which was adopted for use in Norfolk schools in September 2005 and that the admissions criteria would be the same as used at present.
Rosalie Monbiot, the county council's cabinet member for children's services, said: "It's very important that people have their say on this so we can have a balanced debate."

Information and questionnaires will also be available at libraries, the professional development centre, Heartsease High School, churches and shops.

Cambridge Consultants has organised a public meeting at Heartsease High on Tuesday, June 12 at 7pm with a public exhibition on the same day from 1pm to 4.30pm.

The results from the consultations will feed into a feasibility study to be handed to the Secretary of State at the end of September, who will decide whether the academy should go ahead.

Anyone from the local community or with an interest in the proposal is invited to comment by the deadline of August 20.
People can comment on the plan on 0845 603 8082, by e-mail at  or write to Heartsease Academy Public Consultation, Planet Publications Ltd, Clifton Court, 48 High Street, Newport Pagnell MK16 8AQ.
More information on the proposals and consultation, plus a questionnaire can be found at
Thank you to all those Network Norwich readers who have joined in this important and lively debate and given their own views, while also listening to the opinions of other people.

We have decided to draw an end to this particular debate as one or two users were abusing our trust and the chance to make comments by falsely representing the views of others.

Do you appreciate our service and stories?

The Network Norwich & Norfolk website has been published for over 13 years now and we have an established team of professional journalists covering the activities, organisations and churches which make up the county’s Christian community. Our whole purpose is to support that community by daily providing accurate, unbiased stories and features.

To pay for that service, we rely on our partner organisations, advertisers and readers to, in turn, support us financially. We want to keep the website free for everyone to access and continue to be able to pay for writers to produce the content you can enjoy every day.

We would like to ask you to consider supporting our work and suggest you might want to make a small regular donation of just £1 a week and become one of our 100 Friends, or a larger one-off or annual amount.

Because we are part of a registered charity we can reclaim Gift Aid on your donations if you are a tax-payer.

 Recommended reading 
Not rated. Write the first review or comment
Site Search

 Norfolk services........ 


Twitter-button  facebookbutton


Sign up for our
free e-newsletter

Send us your latest local news and events