An ambitious modernisation programme has been unveiled for one of Middlesbrough’s oldest schools as it prepares to celebrate its 80th birthday.

St Peter’s Catholic College in South Bank has a long and proud history, with illustrious alumni including folk singer Vin Garbutt, Formula One engineer Rob Smedley and professional footballers including Boro and England Golden Boy Wilf Mannion.

The extensive improvements at St Peter’s will build on that heritage with a state-of-the-art fitness suite and changing rooms, a new digital learning wing and Exhibition Centre along with a comprehensive facelift to the outside and interior of the famous building.

The school assembly hall will also be transformed with a new lighting and sound system and retractable auditorium seating to ensure parents and pupils have the perfect vantage point for school productions.

Other changes include new internal windows, flooring and signage and improvements to the reception area.

Announcing the plans, Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust (NPCAT) chief operating officer Jim Farquhar said: “We are determined to enhance the fabric of our extensive school estate for the benefit of pupils and staff.

“In addition to this announcement at St Peter’s, further announcements will be made in the coming months on significant infrastructural developments at both primary and secondary schools within our trust.”

Head of school Stephanie Garthwaite said the investment adds further to the positive momentum at the college. 

“With two years of improving GCSE results and a new leadership structure in place, our community is working collaboratively with the trust and this announcement is a clear acknowledgement of the positive impact of this.

“As the pupils have returned they’re already appreciating changes over the summer that have made our classrooms much brighter and more open and they’re excited about the plans for the fitness suite and changing rooms.”

St Peter’s executive head Michael Burns, NPCAT chief operating officer Jim Farquhar, Gareth James from the trust’s estates department, head of school Stephanie Garthwaite and new St Peter’s pupils Thomas and Harriet

Executive headteacher Michael Burns added: “Our pupils are so proud to attend a school with so much history and the new facilities will ensure St Peter’s continues to evolve while still retaining its distinctive character.

“This community has such a proud heritage of sporting achievement and we already have an excellent sports hall and multi-use games area (MUGA), but the changing rooms needed updating and we also wanted a new strength and conditioning facility that provides a focus on reinforcing the drive for healthy lifestyles.

“We held a series of meetings over the summer and the trust is ploughing this investment in because they can see a real need. 

“It will be fantastic for our pupils not to have to travel to other areas and we also hope local people will be able to use the new facilities, as well as our Combined Cadet Force and partner sports clubs, putting St Peter’s very much to the fore in supporting our community.”

Year 7 pupils Thomas and Harriet are thoroughly enjoying their first term at senior school after moving up from St Margaret Clitherow’s Catholic Primary School just across the road.

“I’m really enjoying it, I love all the lessons, especially Art and Catering,” said Thomas.

Harriet added: “It’s a really nice school and I love it here.”

The new fitness suite and changing facilities will be bespoke permanent buildings and the trust is hopeful that work will begin shortly and they will be ready for use this academic year. 

Plans are also advancing for St Peter’s year-long 80th-anniversary celebrations in 2021, with exhibitions and memory walks providing opportunities for former pupils to visit the college.

Covid rules permitting, an anniversary banquet in the Pamela Hanrahan Refectory, named after a former headteacher, will draw the celebrations to a conclusion.

St Peter’s has commissioned a videographer to prepare footage to be aired at a special virtual open evening for parents of Year 6 children from local primary schools on Wednesday September 30.