Dagenham’s Eastbrook School moves into new buildings

PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 May 2017

The new Eastbrook School in Dagenham (All pictures: Ken Mears)

The new Eastbrook School in Dagenham (All pictures: Ken Mears)


Moving house can be a challenge – so imagine what it’s like trying to move a whole school.

Pupils learn in one of the new classroomsPupils learn in one of the new classrooms

That’s the challenge faced by staff and pupils at Eastbrook School, who moved into their new buildings – at the opposite end of the Dagenham campus to the old one – at the start of the summer term.

And despite the logistical challenges of moving everything from one building to the other in the space of just two weeks, everything has gone smoothly.

“It’s like 100 people trying to move house at once,” headteacher Valerie Dennis said.

With wide corridor areas, skylights and a dash of colour on the classroom doors, the school has a modern feel – a far cry from the original 1930s building, which has had various extensions added down the years to cater for the increasing pupil population.

Headteacher Valerie DennisHeadteacher Valerie Dennis

“We’re two thirds of the way through the project,” explained Valerie.

“The final stage is to knock down the old buildings and restore the area to fields and a pitch.

“That should be done by October, but as we’re going to be seeding rather than laying turf, it won’t look complete until April.”

The new school consists of two buildings, one for core subjects and one with specialist rooms.

Pupils in one of the new classroomsPupils in one of the new classrooms

The latter includes art rooms, sports facilities and science labs – including a ‘super lab’ that can fit 60 pupils.

“It’s got a range of uses,” Valerie said. “We can use it to teach two classes at once, either if a teacher’s covering for another or for revision sessions, and it’s fully equipped so we can do practical exams in there too.

“It’s also good for hosting guest science lectures.”

More athletic pupils can hone their skills in one of Eastbrook’s two new sports halls, which have a variety of pitch and court markings marked out on the floor.

The new Eastbrook School in Dagenham.The new Eastbrook School in Dagenham.

There is also a dance studio, used for drama lessons as well as PE, and a fitness room that both staff and older pupils can work out in.

“Most of the machinery came from the old school, but it looks a lot better in a proper room, rather than in a converted corridor,” Valerie explained.

Also in the school’s specialist building, which is built in a U shape around a playground area, are classrooms where children who do not speak English as their first language can take extra lessons, and provision for those with speech, language and communication needs.

The second building, where English, maths and humanities lessons take place, is known as East and Brook.

The dance studioThe dance studio

Built so one end of the rectangular block mirrors the other, pupils will have all their maths and English lessons in either the East or Brook end, reducing the amount of corridors and classrooms they have to familiarise themselves with.

Each floor is for a different subject and has different colour doors, with staffroom doors a beige colour, so pupils can easily know where they are.

“We’ve had pupils say it’s got a university feel to it, which is great,” said Valerie.

“We want them to aspire to things like that.”

A class in progressA class in progress

Assistant headteacher Simon Charlton has been at the school for more than 30 years, and said the move has given him “a new lease of life”.

In addition to the new secondary campus, which can hold 2,500 pupils, the school is expanding to become all-through, with Eastbrook School Primary opening on the Dagenham Road end of the site a few years ago.

When the old building is demolished, pupils will be able to see it at the other end of the field, strengthening the link between the two.

“Some of the secondary school teachers go down there to take lessons,” Simon said.

The new Eastbrook School in Dagenham.The new Eastbrook School in Dagenham.

“Teaching science to the little ones is a totally different experience.

“We also have the sixth form sport leaders run activities for them.”

It seems the future of Eastbrook is only just beginning.

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