New Engineering Facility gets underway at St Cuthbert’s School

3rd June 2014

Four enthusiastic students from St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School in Newcastle were invited to mark the beginning of the preparatory ground works for a brand new science and engineering building to be constructed within the school grounds. The budding engineers were ably assisted by John Reece, Trustee of The Reece Foundation, the main benefactor which has provided funding for the project.  Following the groundbreaking ceremony, construction work will progress at a fast rate with the building scheduled for completion mid August and fully fitted out and open to students for the start of term in September 2014.

£700k towards the project has been donated by The Reece Foundation with the balance being met by the school. Students were allowed to put their personal stamp on the designs during the planning process with 6th form St Cuthbert’s pupils working with alongside the architects to develop ideas and suggestions that were subsequently incorporated into the final designs.

The striking outline for the 325sqm building includes an exposed steel frame which allows a column free interior giving excellent flexibility in the internal layout. The interior incorporates state-of-the-art facilities including a 55-seater lecture theatre, ICT and CAD areas as well as a huge adaptable central space with mobile benches that can be moved to accommodate large scale projects. The facilities are not exclusive to St Cuthbert’s and will be used by 13 secondary and up to 30 primary schools local? who will enjoy access to a range of specially developed engineering related programmes in the building.

Paul Ruane, deputy head teacher at St Cuthbert’s warmly welcomed Mr Reece to the site saying:  “At St Cuthbert’s we have a very strong commitment towards providing the very best practices in teaching and learning and we are continually pushing the boundaries in our determination to provide the very best for our pupils. Our new building exemplifies the most modern design and engineering excellence and I’m sure it will inspire and excite our students.

“We are most thankful for the support of the Reece Foundation in helping us to realise our aim of engaging children in engineering at a much younger age and to be able to provide the physical resources to allow exciting and inspiring projects. “The enthusiasm among the pupils is tangible and I’m sure that when the building is completed it will exceed their expectations. We will have a facility that is fit for 21st century learning in which both pupils and teachers can learn and thrive.”

John Reece responded saying:  “The skills shortage that we are currently experiencing is a direct result of years of under investment in our young people. For a new generation to become enthused with engineering at an early age we need to inspire and excite them and show them the best practices in technology and engineering teaching. This building will provide a modern inspirational place for young people to learn and the trustees of the Reece Foundation are delighted that we have been able to provide the funding to help make that happen.”

The Reece Foundation was established in 2007 by the late Dr Alan Reece, one of the UK’s most successful engineering entrepreneurs. His engineering companies are now all part of the Reece Group, and have a turnover in excess of £100m and employ more than 500 people in the north east region. is the chosen charity of the Reece Group, which includes Pearson Engineering, Pipe Coil Technology and Responsive Engineering Limited.

With a strong focus on engineering in the curriculum the school has previously built links with The Reece Foundation which has provided funding of £250k to support engineering scholarships. A five year scheme was launched in 2013 to provide financial incentives to children from St Cuthbert’s and other local schools to pursue a career in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. Architects for the scheme are Ian Belsham Associates and the building contractors are STP Construction.

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