Bringing our Westholme Family Together
One Family, One Future
By September 2022, all Westholme students from 4-18 will be educated on one site. We will open a state-of-the-art new Prep School on the same site as the Senior School and INSPIRED Sixth Form at Wilmar Lodge. The vision for One Family, One Site, One Westholme is incredibly exciting.
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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 is to deliver a first class unrivalled holistic excellence and continue to be the leading 4-18 school in Lancashire.
Our ethos is the same as it was in 1923, when Emily Singleton began teaching a handful of local pupils, and 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 new changes will re-establish us as a 4 – 18 coeductional school all on one site, with Reception, Infants and Juniors housed in one Preparatory School adjacent to our Senior 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.
Acknowledging the Past
Whilst the Infant and Junior sites at Billinge House and Beardwood Bank have played an acknowledged and important role in our history, we strongly believe that the children will genuinely benefit from being in one place, consolidating not only our vision of one School community but also that of Mr Arthur Rouse, who opened the Senior School at Wilmar Lodge in 1968 and whose stated aim was always to bring the whole School together as one.
The time now currently spent travelling to and from Wilmar Lodge for regular swimming, sport, rehearsals and timetabled weekly visits can be much better utilised as the children become an integrated part of the campus. The relocation will also increase curriculum diversity and opportunity through symbiotic use of staffing and resources, as well as providing further opportunity for role modelling, vertical links and more holistic transition between key stages.
By September 2022, we will have all our Primary phase pupils from Reception to Year 6 housed in a self-contained building at Wilmar Lodge.
Planning permission was granted in March 2020 to convert and extend the current art and music blocks (which overlook the AstroTurf).
The project combines both new build and conversion of existing buildings, allowing us to maintain some historic features whilst creating a modern, dynamic learning environment for all children. this development will be a direct result of significant investment to ensure children will have their own learning resources, individual playground with dedicated access points and parking. Parents with Infant children will be able to drive directly onto site and safely drop off their children in a dedicated and protected zone.
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It provides a superb opportunity for us to implement change across the curriculum as we plan to bring all our creative disciplines together under one roof, meaning that the Rouse Block will accommodate Art, Photography, Food and Nutrition, Textiles and Product Design altogether from July 2021.
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 but with all the benefits of being newly refurbished and in the centre of the main building. This was completed in April 2021 and features state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.
There will be an enhancement to parking, access, the turning circle and Meins Road entrance to ease the traffic flow and congestion at these critical points, and other possible alterations to the highway on Meins Road are being discussed with the Council as an ongoing part of the planning process.
In the longer term, pending further debate at Board level and close examination of our position, we intend to extend our sporting provision also. We recognise that there is need for more suitable space and facilities in this important area of our educational provision and traditional success.
Questions & Answers
*Updated October 2020
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 currently underway as we fully prepare all aspects of Wilmar Lodge for their arrival. Our Nursery fully closed in August 2020 and all pupils transitioned 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 April 2021 Music will relocate to the lower ground floor of the Sixth Form Centre.
In May 2021, Art and Photography will move into a creative hub in the Rouse Block.
In July 21 Pre School closes.
We will begin building the new Prep School infrastructure including traffic compliance measures and parking improvements in July /August 21.
By September 2022 we intend to have all our Primary phase pupils from Reception 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.
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council granted planning permission to convert and extend the current Art and Music blocks in March 2020. Our detailed proposal, incorporated parking and traffic management improvements.
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.
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 currently 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. This will be completed by April 2021.
We plan to bring all our creative disciplines together under one roof, meaning that the Rouse Block will accommodate Art, Photography, Food and Textiles altogether from July 2021. This work will be undertaken in the late spring and summer of 2021.
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 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.
During the Summer of 2020, all the Infants from Pre School to Year 2 moved 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.
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.
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.