Prior Park Gibraltar is on track to open its doors to its first pupils in September this year.
Following an extensive recruitment and selection process, they are ready to appoint ten teachers to be the founding staff at Prior Park. From 260 applications, 45 teachers were interviewed both at Prior Park College and here in Gibraltar recently. So far 10 teachers have been appointed.
Headmaster of Prior Park Gibraltar Peter Watts is confident that from such an impressive field they have appointed a well-qualified team with a blend of both experience teaching here Gibraltar and in the UK. As from September the school will be accepting children into years 8, 9 and 10.
“We will not need all teaching spaces ready for that time and so we have been able to split the refurbishment into several phases. The appointed contractor has an enviable reputation for finishing similar projects here in Gibraltar ahead of deadlines which gives us further confidence that teaching will start on site at the beginning of the Autumn Term,” he said.
Planning permission has been given for the buildings refurbishment project in the old Sacred Heart School but no fundamental changes are planned to the external appearance or to the internal structure.
The premises were visited recently by the Local Governance Committee, LGC. The group is a mixture of Prior Park Schools governors and Prior Park School Gibraltar governors and are in effect the management group for the school, made up of both locally appointed governors and members of the governing body of Prior Park College.
They meet regularly to review the progress of the project and will act as ‘a critical friend’ to the Headmaster, to ensure that the children and staff of the school are being well served in terms of the education provided.
They are Tony Bury, Tony McNiff, Anne Shepperd, Elaine Lane, Colin Risso, Julian Jarvis and Joey Garcia and have oversight over the strategic direction, the policies and procedures and the financing of the school.
Peter Watts says that since he moved here in January he has been bowled over by the warmth of the welcome.
“Everyone I have spoken to has been excited and supportive of this project to bring a choice of secondary education to the boys and girls of Gibraltar. Moving here from the depths of the Dorset countryside was quite odd initially but my exploration of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve has shown me quite how beautiful the land side of the Rock is, and the views that met me when I first made it to the top of the Med Steps literally took my breath away. At a time when tolerance and community seems to be being eroded throughout the rest of Europe I have been delighted to observe that society here in Gibraltar is welcoming to those of all faiths and nations and Gibraltarians seem so cheerful and gregarious – I am sure the climate has something to do with this!”
In September the school will admit children into years 8,9 and 10 this coming September, with plans to open a Sixth Form the following year.
Over 100 children have been registered for Prior Park and they are hoping to open with approximately 60 boys and girls.
“ I have been meeting with registered children and their parents throughout this term to discuss their aspirations, to share plans for September and beyond and to get the children to sit an admissions test,” confirms Mr Watts.
New registrations are being made each week and a meeting was held last week for the start of term in September.