CIRAN Stapleton believes that St Joseph’s Catholic High School can be at the heart of Slough after the completion of its new four-court sports hall.

The facility is a part of the £3.8 million project from Slough Borough Council to re-organise St Joseph’s playing fields and the former Arbour Vale School site.

The council handed over the sports hall last week, confident it had managed to regenerate a part of Slough, and given the school a new beginning.

Mr Stapleton is headteacher at St Joseph’s and argues that schools should be a driving force in their community, hoping that people in the town will soon see the benefit.

He told the Observer: “There’s going to be an increase in participation, boys and girls, and the range of sports we can facilitate, some like hockey and girls football that we’ve not been able to offer before. Now that we’ve got the facilities you’re going to see greater participation, and from the local community.

“We’re really looking forward to it, this is the big thing about us. We want to be seen as a school at the centre of the community. That’s really important to our mission and our vision of what schools should be.

“Schools should be at the heart of communities, they should be driving these things forward, so we’re really happy to be able to offer this sort of facility.

“We will get more people all around the area involved in the school, education and sport – fitter stronger and healthier.”

Slough Observer:

PHOTO: (l-r) Adrian Branski and Ismal Khan inside the new sports hall at St Joseph's Catholic High School.

Mr Stapleton added: “Having the Slough Town Academy with us has been a really good thing. It’s all about going back to our mission of being at the centre of the community, and providing education all round the town.

“The football club is trying to achieve excellence, ambition and aspiration while serving with honour, and those three ideals correspond with what we’re all about.”

The headteacher explained how students at the school have taken to the sports hall, and he is confident they can now better express themselves, a view shared by head of PE Nikki Formby.

Mr Stapleton said: “It has changed how children view the school. They’re positive about coming in and feel as though they’ve got something to really invest in.

“They’re also really beginning to see how the school is investing in them and have reacted accordingly. I do believe that if you build beautiful amazing places children respond.

“We already have a number of children who are competing at a national standard but simply haven’t got the facilities to be able to express that talent.

“But, imagine what we can do with this facility. I think amazing things will come from here.”

Formby said: “We will now have a much broader curriculum and extra activities will boom because many more students are able to take part. It is also going to have a huge impact for us in PE.

Slough Observer:

PHOTO: (l-r) Chichi Mushore and Delliah Clark inside the new sports hall at St Joseph's Catholic High School.

“We’ve got a lot of students with incredible raw talent but perhaps they probably haven’t had the same level of coaching as others.

“In terms of confidence, when we go to fixtures, we will see a huge raise in the manner in which they walk in, particularly the basketball team. They’re good anyway, but having trained in this new environment, will walk in more confident.

“You can see students are really proud of their school because of the buzz around the new sports hall.

“I don’t know if it was coincidence but we had the biggest number of students coming in for Sixth Form open evening.

“The general buzz around here at the moment will have a massive impact, and we’ve got the staffing to really put the school on the map. With this new facility we will really be able to drive that.

“You need to watch out for us in basketball and gymnastics. Hopefully we will be at regionals. It’s going to open up so many doors.”

Students are equally excited about their new sports hall.

Samuel Adeji, 17, said: “It will make people more attracted to sport, so they will probably be more inclined to try out the new equipment and participate in after-school activities.

Slough Observer:

PHOTO: Jessica Moore (left) 16 and Hannah Wilkins (right) 15 with represenatives from Slough Borough Council and Morgan Sindall.

“It’s easy to access, you don’t need to travel long distances, and it can also help us develop any skills we need.

“If we have any issues with fitness we can work in the gym and use the weights to build strength.

“We can also use the court to try and improve on our abilities or go over any tactics that we need to.”

Trai Woodley, 16, added: “It will be really positive for people doing GCSE or A-Level PE. It can help you with your coaching; how to lay out the equipment we have in an environment like this, and what would be the best drill to use. It would also help other children to reach their goals and push their abilities further.

“Hopefully we can make it warm, accessible and open to everyone.”

Billie-Jean Hancock, 15, added: “Obviously I can now train after school.

“I couldn’t go to the gym because it costs money, but here it is free and easily accessible.”