STUDENTS returning to Manningtree High School this term were witness to the heavy machinery being used for the school’s £2.6million expansion and the replacement of the dilapidated performing arts block.

Property and construction consultants Ingleton Wood, who have designed and project managed the build, said both projects are due for completion before summer 2020.

Ingleton Wood helped secure £1.2million from the Government-run Condition Improvement Fund (CIF), which helps schools prioritise the replacement of dilapidated building stock.

The additional funds for the expansion were provided by Essex County Council.

Once finished, the school will have capacity to increase its yearly intake by 30 students in response to demand and have use of a new performing arts block that will contain a drama studio, an activity studio and an extension to the dining hall.

Headteacher Sally Morris said: “We are delighted to have secured external funding to enable us to enhance our facilities and give the students and staff more areas to take part in high-quality learning in a better working environment.”

Andrew Marchant, associate building surveyor at Ingleton Wood, who is overseeing the project, said: “We are really excited to continue our ongoing partnership with the school.

“We are extremely proud to have secured this desperately-needed funding to continue upgrading the school’s dilapidated building stock and look forward to working with them on delivering the new builds, which will improve the teaching environment for staff and pupils.”

Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education, said: “We’re delighted to support the expansion of Manningtree High School and pleased it won’t be long before pupils are benefitting from new facilities.

“It is vital that as a county council we continue to support existing schools, as well as plan for new ones, to ensure they are able to meet the growing demand for school places.

“This local demand is something we’re seeing here in Manningtree, as well as across other areas of the county.

“Well done to everyone involved in this exciting project.”

A spokesman from builders Phelan Construction said: “It’s a pleasure to be back once again on site at Manningtree High School to deliver another two phases of redevelopment.

“Last summer, we completed the extensive works on the new art and languages teaching block.”

Ingleton Wood covers Central England, East Anglia, London and the South East.