Just under a year ago I started to have a conversation with colleagues at the Local Authority over plans to completely rebuild our old ‘astroturf’ pitch. I guess in some ways it was the worst time to have that conversation – we’d just reopened the school after the first lockdown and we were holding our breath for the first covid cases to be reported. The chance of securing some funding, designing a new pitch, tendering the job, appointing a contractor and getting something built for September 2021 seemed nigh on impossible, and I think we’d have been forgiven if we had pushed the plans back a year.
But in other ways this was exactly the right time to be pressing ahead for new sports facilities. For one thing, extra curricular was all but banned last year and so no-one was going to mind the old pitch being out of action for a while. Secondly, we knew that when we could re-open properly there would be a massive appetite for sport, and so we wanted to make the most of the opportunity and crack on. We had been saving for a replacement ‘astro’ for several years and we were thrilled when the Local Authority came on board at the turn of the year to match-fund our project, meaning that not only do we now have a magnificent new 36 pitch but also a brand new floodlit MUGA (multi-use games area) where previously there was just some tatty old tarmac. This is great for the school of course, but also great for the local community. Demand for the pitches has been really high and it’s been great to see clubs making use of the new and existing facilities in the past week or so. Users who remember the old surface will be pleased to know that the new pitch has been thoroughly rain-tested this week and it doesn’t flood!
In planning our rebuild project we were determined to find a solution that would benefit the school in the long run, which in particular meant having the say over what we can do with any profits that come in from lettings. As well as maintenance and forward planning for the next time we need a full rebuild (15+ years away I hope), we will have the freedom to use any profit for the benefit of the school – and so not only those students and staff who are into sport will directly benefit. As a poorly funded school in a poorly funded area any additional income is hugely important, and the way we funded this project means that we’ll be able to make good use of every penny.
Students in PE lessons have used the 3G pitch all week, but on Wednesday we officially opened the main pitch as you can see below. I was joined left to right by Pete Hutchinson (Estates Manager), Olive and Alfie from Years 9 and 8, Michael Stretton (Director of Teaching and Learning for PE and Dance) and Clare Smith (PE Technician and Sports Hall Manager). These colleagues and others have all played a major role in ensuring the project has been a success and it was great to literally cut the ribbon with them this week.
Down to business, one of the first ‘competitive’ matches took place on Wednesday evening between two highly skilled staff teams…although when I tell you the final score was 9-6 you can make up your own mind as to the standard!
Major projects such as this are vital to our efforts to boost the work of our school. It’s a sign that we are keen to keep improving – that better never stops – and I am so pleased we took the plunge during the darkest days of Covid to deliver a great new facility this year.
Our Community - Our Future
Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB
Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker