The new facilities include a spectacular multi-purpose function room, a dedicated learning support centre and additional office and meeting space. It marks the final strand of a 10-year school redevelopment plan.
The building project has delivered approximately 450 square metres of additional space and has transformed the dining experience for both pupils and staff.
Mrs Sarah Haslam, Withington Girls’ School headmistress said: “The end result of this major project is simply outstanding, and we are seeing the immediate benefit of these bright, spacious and well-equipped dining facilities for both pupils and staff. Our community is again able to gather at breakfast, break and lunch to enjoy one another’s company as well as a wide selection of tasty and nutritious food.”
“We are thrilled that this major project is now complete and thank all in our school community for their patience and understanding during the period of construction and refurbishment.”
At the opening event, attended by project partners, school governors and pupil members of the school council, Mrs Haslam acknowledged the team that delivered the project. This included architects Cassidy + Ashton and John Turner Construction Group, both of which were also project partners on the school’s sports centre development completed in 2018.
Mrs Haslam also gave recognition to the role the school’s caterers, Holroyd Howe, played in the refurbishment of the new dining facilities.
The dining experience has been enhanced with the introduction of a second servery for pupils and additional seating, which has improved the flow for pupils during lunchtime.
The school’s bursar, Mrs Anna Cohen, said: “This has created a more relaxed and interactive experience, giving the pupils the opportunity to ask questions, sample dishes and have the time to sit and enjoy lunch with their friends. The large doors and windows of the dining area allow light to flood in, and the sixth form are enjoying their refurbished bistro area.”
Reflecting on the sustainability and environmental considerations of the project, Mrs Cohen explained that the building incorporates LED lighting and heat recovery ventilation systems and has also provided the opportunity to install EV chargers in the upgraded car park adjacent to the new extension.
Cassidy + Ashton chairman and head architect on the project, Alistair Baines, said: “It is always a pleasure to be involved in design projects that improve school life for students. We are proud to continue to be a trusted partner for Withington Girls’ School, having previously been involved in the design and creation of its upgraded sporting facilities.”
When working on the original brief for the school’s dining area to increase its overall capacity and improve efficiency, Alistair explained that adding a first floor to the existing building to create a large function suite would be a cost-effective way of creating a multi-purpose for the building.
“The completed project, with an additional first floor provides a large space for a wide range of activities for students. We incorporated into the design an outdoor spectator area for watching sporting activities on the adjacent playing field, which also offers an excellent vantage point to showcase the school’s top-class sporting facilities.”
“The upper floor extension provides a spacious multi-purpose function room with kitchen facilities, which is already being fully utilised, while the learning support centre and additional office space will be in full use in the new academic year.”