RESIDENTS flocked to an exhibition to view plans for the Portland Academy.

Detailed plans for the £15million Southwell Park Campus were displayed at Underhill Junior School .

They went on show after criticism by residents over the timing of the exhibition being held in the summer holidays with only a week’s notice.

Many residents are optimistic that the proposals will benefit students and residents on Portland.

Mum Becky Tacey, of Underhill , attended the exhibition with her daughters Amy, nine, and Eva, six.

She said: “The proposals are lovely and with so much money being spent it should turn out really well.

“My only point is that we were promised a new school at Underhill but now that won’t happen.

“I would have preferred that because all parents want to walk their children to school. My children are excited about it though.”

Terry McCormack, who owns an electrical, plumbing and renewable energy contractor business, said: “I am all for it because we have been told they will be sub-contracting work to local companies, which is great for Portland and the area.

“My only point is that of the transport, there will be a lot of children walking all over the island.”

Lisa Kelly, a former governor at Royal Manor who is now involved in the project, said: “This is the best chance Portland has got for better schooling and it is a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity for the island.”

Portland Town Councillor Rod Wild said: “I have an open mind about the proposals. I think they should be more central though as for some children who would walk to school it really is quite far.”

Royal Manor Arts College staff member Bridget Rod said the proposals are ‘fantastic’.

The vocational learning assistant added: “The proposals are fantastic but it is a worrying time on Portland with so much change going on but hopefully it is for the best for students and residents.”

From September, 2013 youngsters from four schools on the island will relocate to the Southwell campus or a campus at Osprey Quay .

The academy opens in existing school buildings in September, 2012.

Alan Brooks, of the Aldridge Foundation, the lead sponsor of the academy said: “The academy is an opportunity for the young people of Portland. We really hope the exhibition allows people to understand our plans by talking to the experts.”

A second exhibition will be held today at the Ocean Dining Room and Bar at Southwell Business Park from 3pm to 7pm.

Theatre and swiming pool

The academy will be home to young people aged between four and 19 together with foundation stage units including reception age children.

Students will move on through the academy when they are ready and not by age with individual learning plans.

On completion, it will have a 200-seat theatre, swimming pool, sports, art drama, music facilities, professional kitchens, as well as a range of science and marine- related facilities.

Younger pupils will benefit from school transport to take them to academy.

What do you think?

Lindsay Booton, 30, and her husband Matt Macauley, 36, pictured with son Levi, also praised the initiative.
She said: “I think the plans are really good the way the older and younger children will be together. We have recently moved to the area and we are so pleased our children can be part of this.”

Debbie Smith, a member of the transitional governing body involved in the project, said she was pleased her sons would benefit from the plans.
She said: “The plans are a fantastic opportunity for the children of Portland and are quite inspirational. I can’t wait for the building to be completed.”

Carole Chapman, who is involved in the transitional governing body of the academy, said: “I am really excited about it all. I love how it is split into different areas and think it is really great for Portland. It is much needed – the schools on Portland at the moment need a lot of work and this would be a great outcome.”