Architects praise Perry Beeches School
Jun 9 2008 By Nicola Fahey
A Birmingham school is celebrating its new status as one of the city’s iconic buildings.
Perry Beeches School welcomed back the people behind its regeneration to celebrate its landmark achievement – it is the only state secondary school to feature in Birmingham: Shaping the City, a book compiled by the Royal Institute of British Architects to commemorates the city’s most iconic structures.
Headteacher of the Great Barr school, Liam Nolan, said: “Our city has a list of landmark buildings and Perry Beeches School has been included in that list.
“But it is really important we remember this building is not just an aesthetically pleasing work of art but a live, dynamic, vibrant structure that serves the young people and community of Great Barr.”
The school saw its reputation enhanced under a Private Finance Initiative deal worth £16.5 million, and as part of a larger £38 million contract with Birmingham City Council for 10 schools.
In a keynote address at the school, city council leader Mike Whitby praised it for its dramatic improvement since its complete rebuild in 2002.
He said it would act as a flagship model for regeneration in light of the Government’s £45 billion pledge to rebuild every state school in the country by 2020.
“Perry Beeches School is a testament to the successful partnership of the public and private sector in creating public service developments,” he said.
“It is important that the demands we make of designers and developers in the city centre are the same demands we make of any other part of the city – especially in our most disadvantaged areas.”
He added: “Let us hope other schools in Birmingham will lead by its example.”
The aim of the school’s regeneration, according to the brief from the city’s education department in 1997, was to establish a new identity and reflect its emergence from past difficulties into a new and exciting future. The old secondary school was ruined by fire twice in recent years, leaving its staff to teach in huts.
Mr Nolan said: “We’ve moved into the 21st century and gone from having serious problems in recruitment to having an environment that attracts teachers and pupils.”
The school and its facilities – which include a Learning Resource Centre, video conferencing room, ICT suites and sports centre – were constructed and will be maintained by Galliford Try under a 30-year PFI contract.