A PRESTWICH high school is to undergo a huge £1 million makeover as it prepares to start a new era as an academy.

The Heys School, formerly known as Prestwich Arts College, will see extensive internal and external improvements.

These are expected to be completed before pupils return on September 7.

It comes after the school recently became part of the Wigan-based Rowan Learning Trust, which also runs five other schools in the North West.

Headteacher Rachel Evans said: “We are thrilled that the trust has been able to address urgent and essential issues to the buildings and external areas to bring about much-needed improvements.

“They will make the site safer and more secure, will enable us to further develop the curriculum, and will create better community access to our facilities."

Outside, the school in Heys Road is to get a new roof, new railings, signage and car park lighting.

Electronic gates will also be installed and improvements made to the pupil entrance, paths, ramps and walkways across the school site.

Inside, new classrooms will be created to form a larger teaching area.

Bury Times: Rachel Evans, headteacher at The Heys School in PrestwichRachel Evans, headteacher at The Heys School in Prestwich

The revamp will additionally see upgrades to the school buildings' heating and electrical systems, and new windows, flooring and décor.

Funds for a second phase of improvements at The Heys School have also been secured by the trust.

This second refurbishment project will incorporate upgrades to the library and more classrooms.

Andy Wilson, chair of trustees of The Rowan Learning Trust, said: “We’re delighted to have The Heys School join our family of schools.

“Our ethos is to invest in our staff and buildings to improve student learning and outcomes, preparing them for life beyond school."

The former Prestwich Arts College, which currently has 760 pupils, joined The Rowan Learning Trust on June 1.

It had been ordered to turn into an academy after it was rated inadequate by the Government's education watchdog, Ofsted.

An opposition campaign was mounted, led by a former pupil, Josh Harcup. However, this ultimately proved unsuccessful and the academisation went ahead.

Bury Times: The Heys School crestThe Heys School crest

Students were asked to suggest a new name for the school and design a new crest.

From a shortlist, the governors chose The Heys School, and a crest which features the Manchester Bee.

The school’s new motto is Realising Greatness.

In recent weeks The Heys has been preparing to welcome pupils and staff back to a Covid secure environment, and number of measures have been put in place to protect them, the school said.

Ms Evans continued: “I am excited for The Heys School to embark on a new era as an academy.

"We know September and the coming months will be challenging for all schools.

"We have done a huge amount of work in preparation for our students returning, and are just looking forward to having them back with us.”