2021 at Westholme School

As Westholme School approaches our 100th birthday in 2023, the last 96 years have presented many wonderful opportunities, changes and developments with constant evolution and refinement of our educational provision. Our commitment to deliver the very best possible outcome for every child in our care has remained throughout.

Our ethos the same as it was in 1923 – we still put our children at the centre of all we do. This is our central goal and the shaping philosophy which will take us into the next stage of Westholme’s future. It has always been a strength of the School that we have been able to adapt to a changing market, and the simple fact that are now fully co-educational speaks of that. The proposed changes will re-establish us as a 3 – 18 coeductional school all on one site, with Pre School, Infants and Juniors in one school.

Governors and the Senior team have been looking proactively, especially over the last three years, at numerous ways to further enhance the educational experience of all our pupils, to shape the School for the future alongside improving our operational efficiencies. The current climate both locally and nationally is challenging, as it is for many independent schools. This situation has led us to examine the benefits of, and barriers to, future consolidation of Westholme’s current sites.

There has been a long and detailed review and feasibility study of all realistic possibilities and this is now the time to make the changes.

Front Facing View

Rear Facing View

Project Timeline

Questions & Answers

To relocate all of our pupils from Pre School through to Sixth Form onto one site, based at Wilmar Lodge. This will be a two-staged process, with an interim one-year move of Infants into the Junior site as we fully prepare all aspects of Wilmar Lodge for their arrival. Nursery will close fully in August 2020 and all pupils will transition into Pre School.

From September 2020 – July 2021, Pre School children will be based at 290, Preston New Road and children in Reception – Year 2 will move into Beardwood House.

In Summer 2020, Art Product Design and Technology will move into a creative hub in the Rouse Block and Music will relocate to the lower ground floor of the Sixth Form Centre.

By September 2021 we intend to have all our Primary phase pupils from Pre School to Year 6 housed in a self-contained new building on our campus here, with access to all our excellent facilities, and supported by an enhanced infrastructure.

Whilst the Infant and Junior sites have played an important role in our history, the children will genuinely benefit from being in one place, consolidating our vision of one school community, in line with Arthur Rouse’s original vision when he set up Wilmar Lodge in 1968.

There are a number of benefits at various levels. The time now currently spent travelling to and from Wilmar Lodge for swimming, sport, rehearsals and timetabled weekly visits can be much better utilised by the children become an integrated part of the campus. The whole area will have investment to ensure the children have their own playgrounds and dedicated spaces.

Relocation of Juniors and Infants to the Wilmar Lodge site will increase curriculum diversity and opportunity with utilisation of staffing and resources. It will also bring further opportunity for role modelling, vertical links and smoother transitions between key stages – which should aid pupil retention.

There are also longer term financial gains from this proposed change which are crucially important, to give us the assurance of long term sustainability and the future ability to reinvest in our facilities. Bringing Art and Music into the main building will benefit Senior School in terms of travel between lessons, providing more time to learn and will also help strengthen faculty identity. Relocating Product Design into the Rouse Block alongside Art, Textiles and Food Nutrition will also provide students with a creative technology hub.

The first stage of this planned development has been to apply to Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council for planning permission to convert and extend the current Art and Music blocks. We have submitted a detailed proposal, incorporating parking and traffic management improvements, to the Council. If we are successful in being granted planning permission we would achieve this in Spring of next year.

The project combines both a conversion and new build, allowing us to maintain many of the lovely features of both existing buildings. It is the most favourable option as we are located in a Greenbelt area, with the restrictions on development that this naturally brings.

We plan to bring all our creative disciplines together under one roof, meaning that the Rouse Block will accommodate Art, Photography, Food and Textiles and Product Design altogether from

September 2020. This work will be undertaken in the summer of 2020 – as will the work to relocate Music.

Similarly, for Music, a new zone in the lower ground floor of the Sixth Form Centre will be created with the same amount of space as current being allocated to the practice rooms and teaching spaces, but with all the benefits of being newly refurbished and in the centre of the main building.

Re-configuring these spaces will also allow us to look afresh at other areas in school such as cloakrooms and classrooms, ensuring they are fit for purpose, particularly now we are fully coeducational.

Yes, we will work closely with specialist teachers and other staff to ensure they can contribute to their new bases. Outline plans have been developed but we will want to liaise closely with staff over rooms, equipment, technology provision and associated plans.

The whole area will have investment to ensure the primary children have their own playgrounds, access points and parking.

Parents of Infant children will be able to drive onto the site and safely drop off children in a dedicated zone. Several options were examined in detail by the Board and we believe this particular solution is the most suitable, sustainable and innovative for all involved.

A full parking rearrangement and development plan has been put in place to ensure parking for staff and visitors is maximised across the whole estate, with safe entry and exit for pedestrians and vehicles examined from all angles.

There will be an enhancement of the turning circle to ease the traffic flow at this recognised critical point, and other possible alterations to the highway on Meins Road are being discussed with the Council as an ongoing part of the planning process.

It has been a priority to try to ease congestion rather than contribute to it.

The stages are outlined on the leaflet timeline. There will need to be an interim move for the Infant children, as we estimate the conversion will take the majority of a year.

Over the Summer of 2020, and ready for the new academic year in September, all the Infants from Pre School to Year 2 will move into the Junior site. There is ample room fit for purpose here as we
will occupy the spaces of both Beardwood House and 290 Preston New Road (which will be returned from temporary lease from BMI in Spring 2020.)

The strategic decision has been taken to close Nursery in August 2020. The baby room was closed in 2019. There will be a continued place for all children currently at the Nursery in Pre School and operational plans are in place to ensure continuity to retain the children we have and bring them through to Reception. For those children who have turned three, or who will be three between now and August 31st 2020, they will progress to Pre School as they would have done in September 2020, without the change of site. Any child already within our setting who turns three during the next ‘academic’ year of September 1st 2020 – August 31st 2021, will be offered a place in our ‘Shooting Stars’ group in Pre School for a year, at the Preston New Road site, before beginning their Pre School year proper in September 2021 in the newly opened Primary School at Wilmar Lodge. Any children who want to join our setting will be able to do so if they turn three this academic year, we will not be taking in any children who are younger than this.

Consideration is also being given to the timings of the School day for the different age groups to ensure there is a proactive management of pressure points and further information will follow on this in due course, specifically to address the start and end of the working day.

In the longer term, pending further debate at Board level and close examination of our position, we intend to extend our sporting provision also with enhanced facilities. We recognise that there is need for more suitable space and facilities in this key area of our educational offering.

More will follow on this in the months ahead as we work through the current agreed plan and reassess our situation.

We still intend to consolidate our sites but we would have to think about a different path to take, potentially based around the Junior School site.

It is paramount to ensure we are fit for purpose, financially stable and fully able to offer all pupils the very best educational experience in the very best surroundings; this means utilising the site, capacity, facilities and location of the Wilmar Lodge site. We have been working diligently to shape the next phase of Westholme’s development over the last three years.