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Alumni descend on Barking Abbey to celebrate new £13.5m school building

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:17 17 October 2019

A visitor admiring Barking Abbey's buildings. Picture: Stewart Cohen/Barking Abbey School.

A visitor admiring Barking Abbey's buildings. Picture: Stewart Cohen/Barking Abbey School.

Stewart Cohen/Barking Abbey School

Barking Abbey alumni descended on the secondary school to mark the opening of its new £13.5million building.

A cake for the school reunion and opening of the new building. Picture: Stewart Cohen/Barking Abbey School.A cake for the school reunion and opening of the new building. Picture: Stewart Cohen/Barking Abbey School.

Around 200 former staff and students celebrated the new block on Barking's Longbridge Road, which has two new design and technology rooms, two art rooms, five science labs and nine classrooms.

The school also increased the size of the gym by building a new sports facility to meet the needs of the students.

Oldtimers got the opportunity to speak to current pupils and see what's changed at the institution. Some of them attended just after the Second World War.

Barrister Philip Petchey, 66, was one of the ex-students at the event on Saturday, October 12.

Councillor Evelyn Carpenter, lead for educational attainment and school improvement, next to Barking Abbey head teacher Jo Tupman. Picture: Stewart Cohen/Barking Abbey School.Councillor Evelyn Carpenter, lead for educational attainment and school improvement, next to Barking Abbey head teacher Jo Tupman. Picture: Stewart Cohen/Barking Abbey School.

"The school has grown over the years and of course is no longer selective, but all the old students who attended felt that the spirit and friendship, which they enjoyed in their years at the school, still endured among the current students," he said.

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The school's head teacher Jo Tupman commented: "We were proud to welcome back so many former students and employees to our reunion event, which also marked the official opening of our new facilities at Longbridge Road campus.

"Around 200 people enjoyed returning to Barking Abbey to tour the impressive new facilities alongside our current students and it was fantastic to see current and former students exchanging so many Barking Abbey stories.

An ex-student looking at old pictures. Picture: Stewart Cohen/Barking Abbey School.An ex-student looking at old pictures. Picture: Stewart Cohen/Barking Abbey School.

"Thank you to everyone who supported the event and made it such a special and enjoyable occasion."

As well as the new facilities, the old students saw the school's revamped older buildings. Existing classrooms have been converted into two new ICT rooms, a music room, a library and a special facility to support pupils with autism. There's also a new main reception to greet visitors.

"This was a wonderful event. It was good to talk with former and current pupils of Barking Abbey and hear about their school experiences," said Cllr Evelyn Carpenter, lead for educational attainment and school improvement.

"The new facilities are impressive and I am sure that students will thrive in this state-of-the-art learning environment.

"The investment in the new buildings is a measure of our commitment to meeting the demand for secondary school places in Barking and Dagenham."

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