After years of planning the first students began their sixth form education today at a brand new multi-million-pound facility.
The autumn term, and first ever term, has finally kicked off at Braintree Sixth Form based at the Notley High School site in Notley Road, Braintree.
The £6million centre - a partnership project between four schools - offers students facilities like a 300-seat theatre and laptop charging lockers.
Director Rory Fox said: “It’s a very good finish. It’s built to a very high standard - fully equipped, fully resourced, everything brand new.
“And I think where we are at is we have got some of the best facilities I have ever seen at a sixth form, some top-notch students and excellent staff from across the four schools.
“We are incredibly grateful for things, all the local headteachers working together on this”.
The project, funded by the Learning and Skills Council, was led by Notley High School, but also involved Alec Hunter Humanities College and Tabor Science College, both in Braintree, and Honywood Community Science School in Coggeshall.
The centre offers 23 subjects at AS and A-Level, as well as 16 under the International Baccalaureate (IB). It is now the sole provider of AS and A-Levels in Braintree.
The building has about 25 classrooms, science labs, library, music and media facilities - everything you would expect, Mr Fox said - but little surprises may include the all-day cafe, where students can get breakfast, and under-foor heating and motion-sensitive lighting.
There is also Wi-fi throughout the building and students are encouraged to use laptops, assistant director Kate Stubbs added.
Mr Fox said students were asked to dress as they would in the work place, which reflected a level of professionalism which was what the sixth form was about.
Student Cerys Yeo, 16, said she was “excited” to attend the centre as everything was new and she believed the teachers would push the students extra hard to achieve as it was the first year.
She said she would have attended Colchester Sixth Form College if the new facility had not been built, greatly increasing her travelling time.
Nearly twice the number of students for available places applied to the centre, which could take 150 in its first year.
Notley High School headteacher Simon Thompson said: “For us as a school it’s been the culmination of three years work really.
“We started this process in 2006 so now three years later here we are opening the sixth form so it’s largely exciting, for me personally, the school and all the students in Braintree.”