Woking College to get new £3m teaching block

WOKING College has secured funding for a new £3 million teaching block which will provide much-needed additional space for the oversubscribed sixth-form college.

Three-quarters of the money will come from central government and the remaining quarter from the college’s reserves.

Jonathan Lord MP, left, congratulates Brett Freeman on securing the funding for the project

Brett Freeman, principal of Woking College, said: “We are delighted to have secured this new build, which, given a growing local population and the success of the college, means we will be able to provide additional places for students for the foreseeable future and remain a strong community asset for all.”

Building is scheduled to begin in January with completion within the calendar year.

“We will be able to provide an extra 200 student places,” Mr Freeman added. “That means that no one will have to travel out of the area to continue their education.

VISION OF THE FUTURE – How the new building will look from different viewpoints. Designs courtesy of architects Macallan Penfold

“Meeting local needs has always been the thinking behind the project. When I came here 15 years ago we had 450 students – now we have 1,450, and as we will continue to limit class sizes to 20, we’re simply at capacity.

“We are the smallest sixth-form college in Surrey and Sussex and our intention is to stay that way, as that fosters the wonderful sense of community that has developed here.”

The new building will have eight classrooms and a study area. It will be the base for the college’s Excellence Programme, which helps all students with their applications to the most competitive universities and apprenticeships, and will be a mentoring space for students studying the additional Extended Project Qualification valued by the top universities.

“Getting the funding was a lengthy business, we were in the process for three years,” Mr Freeman said. “The government pot is limited and once it’s been allocated that’s that.

“But we kept submitting our application, it was the same one each time, and ultimately we were successful. This project has been shovel-ready for two years and we’re absolutely set to go.”

An aerial view of the design

The design of the new building, which will be constructed over two levels to fit in with the sightlines of local residents, pays close attention to environmental impact. The insulation, ventilation and CO2 levels will all better present environmental standards, and the building will incorporate solar shading and hi-tech glass.

It will also have a photovoltaic system to provide renewable energy and the LED lighting will dim automatically to save energy.

“There will be no disruption to learning during construction,” Mr Freeman said. “The new building is standalone so we won’t have to move students out of their classrooms.”

Local MP Jonathan Lord welcomed the news: “Woking College has been very successful over recent years, but it is now so popular that it needs to be able to expand in order to meet the demand for places from discerning and ambitious local students. After all, admissions should not be limited by the size of classrooms, but by the calibre of students and applicants.

“By boosting teaching space we can increase the number of students able to continue with their education in such a high quality setting.”

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