�3m extension marks new phase for first-class school in Dagenham

A comprehensive school hailed for achieving excellence against the odds is entering a new phase with the unveiling of a multi-million pound sixth-form building.

Robert Clack School, in Green Lane, Dagenham, celebrated last Wednesday as it officially opened the first wing of the �3million extension that will help to replace temporary huts built in the 1940s.

Speaking at the event headteacher Sir Paul Grant said: “This is a historic day for the school and the council.

“It’s a difficult climate. This means our community is taken seriously on a national level.

“What you get now is the chance to carry on the transition. That shows respect for the people here.

“It really is a community project, a council and partnership project, and as a result our community will benefit.”

The building works began in autumn 2011 and the �3m extension – set to comprise 18 classrooms – is to be completed in March.

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The 10 classrooms which have been built so far are among the most spacious in the country, said Philip Wainwright, managing director of building contractor Select – Laing O’Rourke.

Music teachers said the new facilities used since January 5 had made a major difference to tuition, especially when it came to space for members of the 60-piece orchestra.

Head of music Alison Templer said: “It’s incredible. The students can spread out.

“We have a 60-piece orchestra. Trying to fit them into small rooms was difficult. They were elbowing each other.”

The building will benefit Robert Clack students as well as sixth formers from Eastbrook, All Saints and Warren, who also study at the school as part of the North East Consortium.

School governor Ingrid Dias, 39, added: “I think it’s brilliant. It’s a lovely building. It will help motivate the students.

“It’s a great learning environment.”