TV presenter to open new sixth form centre

Return to school for former pupil.

BBC anchorman Michael Buerk will be revisiting his old school later this autumn when he opens the new £4.5 million sixth form centre at Solihull School. Mr Buerk, who is president of the school’s debating society, will unveil the plaque on 12th November.

The four-floor building will include teaching rooms and private study areas incorporating the latest multimedia technology. The top floor will provide open-plan space for teaching, examinations and social events, along with an external terrace garden with panoramic views. The centre will be called the Cooper Building in memory of the headmaster who led the school during the First World War and in recognition of the centenary commemoration of the conflict.

The present head, David Lloyd said: “If we are to remain a centre of excellence in the region, we must ensure that our facilities are able to support our talent of today and tomorrow. Our new centre will reinforce our standing as one of the Midlands’ leading independent schools.

“We are creating a centre which will drive us into the future; a building that will successfully combine teaching space with private study and IT facilities, as well as social areas, dining facilities and exhibition space.

“One of Solihull School’s greatest successes is its sixth form. Demand for places has never been higher and A Level results are outstanding. The demands of the 21st century global society on our young people have never been greater than today. Students need to develop the skills of independent thinking and learning during their brief time in the Sixth Form, to enable them to transition from school to university life, and then beyond into their career.”

The school was founded in 1560 and has occupied its current site since 1882. Developments carried out over recent years include the David Turnbull Music School, the George Hill Building with its new classrooms and the Alan Lee Pavilion.

The new centre, which was designed by Birmingham-based architect Malcolm Payne Group Ltd and is being built by Kingswinford-based contractor Speller Metcalfe, will stand on the site of the Old Gymnasium, which was destroyed by fire in 2011.