Westhaven School fails to raise final amount for sports hall

Westhaven School pupils and Head of the PTA Chris Ashworth outside the old school sports hall.

Westhaven School pupils and Head of the PTA Chris Ashworth outside the old school sports hall. - Credit: Archant

A special school in Uphill is ‘disappointed’ after failing to raise £300,000 to pay for a new sports hall.

Westhaven School, which caters for children with learning difficulties and physical disabilities, hit the £100,000 mark in June but failed to raise the final £50,000 it needed by July. Sports England would have contributed the remaining £150,000 had it been successful.

More: School appeals for help to raise final £50,000 for new sports hall.

PE teacher Tommy Barlow said: “We have all worked really hard and have raised an amazing and huge amount of money – £120,000.

“Unfortunately this is not enough. We need nearly £300,000.

“We are also proud to have got that far but clearly disappointed to fall at the final hurdle.”

Pupils have no dedicated sports hall for PE lessons and staff use one hall for PE, assemblies and lunchtimes. The changing rooms are also not fit for purpose.

The school has come up with an alternative plan to improve facilities for pupils, which includes extending and refurbishing the changing rooms and installing artificial grass.

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Mr Barlow said: “We do have a plan B – which, while not as breath-taking as our sports hall project, will still have a massive impact on our pupils’ lives. It is significantly cheaper too.

“The first part of the plan is to extend and refurbish our changing rooms so for the first time in over a decade all our pupils will be able to change in a proper changing room for their PE lessons instead of having to use classrooms.

“The second part is to cover the area where the hall was going to be built and its immediate surroundings with artificial grass so our pupils can use it in all weathers. At the moment we cannot use the area for about 50 per cent of the year as it is waterlogged/muddy.

“This will mean pupils will have more space to play and do sport. If there is any money left over, we would use it to install swings for our younger pupils.”

The school will inform its contributors of the change of plans so they can be refunded if they wish – before pushing ahead with the project.

Mr Barlow added: “We ask everyone who has helped so far to stay with us. We have the opportunity to really make a difference to the quality of these young people’s lives.”

The school is looking for building firms keen to help.