|Canon Sharples — A New School For A New Era In Education
Building Blocks: Canon John Sharples with children from St Stephen’s and St John the Baptist at the unveiling of the foundation stone.
Academic experts and religious leaders from across the North West gathered in Wigan on Monday (June 13th) to celebrate the opening of a state-of-the-art new school and pay tribute to a local education hero.
The £3.6m Canon Sharples Church of England Primary School and Nursery, Whelley, was officially opened the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool The Right Rev James Jones.
The new school has been created after Wigan Local Education Authority’s (LEA) review of primary education in the borough and is an amalgamation of two primary schools — St John the Baptist in New Springs and St Stephen’s, Whelley.
It is the result of a successful partnership between the LEA, the Liverpool Diocese, staff and governors.
The school is named after one of Wigan Borough’s leading academic figures Canon John Sharples.
Canon Sharples was head of Wigan Deanery High School for 17 years, a former chair of governors at St John The Baptist, as well as serving as a member of Wigan’s former Education Committee.
Canon Sharples, who was present at the opening, still lives within the school community and will become a Foundation Governor.
Speaking about the opening ceremony, Canon Sharples said:
“I cannot imagine a greater honour than having one’s name attached to so beautiful a school. It was a wonderful surprise and so utterly unexpected.”
The new school boasts a modern, environmentally conscious design and will provide 350 places for children from four to 11 and 45 nursery places.
It has been located in a specially chosen site to take full advantage of natural light. The 12 classes have under-floor heating, natural ventilation and enjoy views of nearby woodland.
Central to the design is the ‘street’ which is a large circulation space between the east and west wings providing an ‘outdoor feel’.
Each classroom has an interactive whiteboard and resources for small group tuition.
Canon Sharples Headteacher Roy Mason said:
“We are in a wonderful position where the awe and wonder of God’s creation is right on our doorstep.”
“Our high quality facilities enable us to respond to the needs of pupils and parents and with careful planning and skill on the part of the governors, LEA and staff we hope to be able to extend this to the local community.”
Mr Mason added:
“We are delighted to welcome the Rt Rev Bishop James Jones to the opening ceremony. We know that he is passionate about education, the environment and the need to sustain the earth for future generations.”
While Wigan Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services Cllr Brian Wilson said:
“This opening marks the culmination of three years hard work by the staff and governors of two schools (St John the Baptist and St Stephen’s), who have been well supported by officers in the Education Department and the Church of England Diocese.”
“I would like to express my appreciation to everyone who has been involved in this project which has produced a brand new, modern, purpose-built school fit for the 21st century.”
Cllr Wilson added:
“I think it is entirely appropriate and fitting that the school has been named after Canon John Sharples.”
“Canon Sharples is someone who has made a significant and valuable contribution to education in our borough as head of the Deanery High School and long-serving member of the Education Committee amongst his many other roles.”