HM Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire formally launched Christleton High School’s RAF Combined Cadet Force at the official opening of the recently renovated school buildings.
The visit by David Briggs MBE KStJ also celebrated the newly-formed Christleton Learning Trust.
Comprising 50 students and four staff officers, the cadet force was established under the government’s cadet expansion programme, which the school says is ‘part of a national drive to increase character and resilience in young people’.
However, the national programme does have its critics including Mark Bostridge who recently wrote in The Guardian that promoting a ‘military ethos’ in schools, as an enticement to a career in the services, was ‘insidious’.
The event was also about officially unveiling £3m-plus building improvements which have given the school a bright, modern and welcoming environment, with internal improvements to match and reduced energy costs.
Despite austerity, the school has been successful in attracting investment ever since it became an academy, a move which was opposed by Cheshire West Anti-Academies Campaign.
Now the government wants all schools in England to become academies by 2020 or have official plans to do so by 2022 despite concerns by teaching unions.
The Christleton event was attended by students, staff as well as many visitors including the headteacher and governors of Queen’s Park High School in Handbridge, who recently announced their intention to convert to an academy and join Christleton Learning Trust, a multi-academy trust.
Also present were many business and school partners, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch who support Christleton’s vision for an International Studio school which could now be based at the Queen’s Park High School site from 2017, after previous plans to secure a city centre base foundered.
As part of her opening speech, Sue Leake, chair of governors at Christleton, said: “We have always performed and delivered as a centre of excellence – now we really look like one. These improvements will certainly help us raise the bar even further on teaching and learning here at Christleton High for the benefit of current and future generations of students and staff.”
Previous investments include the £750,000 i-Research Centre and a £600,000 all-weather sports area. And the school has just received notification of success in a £1.5m bid to complete final sections of a roof renewal, upgrade the heating system and reinstate solar panels.
In the last two years the school has been visited by prime minister David Cameron as well as the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills and the headteacher also had a private meeting with the education secretary.
Headteacher Tony Lamberton said: “This has enabled us to keep Chester on the educational map, give feedback on behalf of our community and champion the case for our students.”