Head teacher David New is very proud of the new Nailsea School
FROM the moment you walk through the doors at Nailsea's new £32 million school it has the 'wow' factor.
Staff and pupils are filled with excitement and enthusiasm at the state-of-the-art building and facilities, which they helped create.
And the question about what it looks like is such a hot topic for debate that many parents are finding it hard to wait until open evenings later in the month to have a look around.
It is the single largest building project ever undertaken by North Somerset Council, and not only finished four months ahead of schedule, but also came in on budget, leaving enough money for an all-weather sports pitch.
The eco-friendly school, which has a university feel, opened its doors at the start of the September term.
Pupils' return was staggered to minimise any teething problems, but it went even better than expected.
Head teacher David New told the Mercury how Year 13 pupils were speechless when they arrived for their induction and could only utter 'ooh', 'aah' and 'wow'.
Other pupils described it as being like a spaceship, or out of this world, but Mr New said his favourite comment was from a young pupil who said the school made her feel 'like a million dollars'.
Once through the doors pupils are met with curved corridors and multi-use open spaces in between angled classrooms with glass
An open atrium from which the arterial routes lead into the heart of, is filled with comfy chairs and trees and has the feeling of being outdoors, by sitting under a glass roof..
Each section of the building has been colour coded to stop pupils and staff getting lost, all rooms have braille on the doors and there will soon be computerised swipe cards for registration.
Even the open plan unisex toilets, which were controversial, in this and other schools, have proven a success.
Mr New says his vision for a wall of learning has been achieved and he has high hopes of turning this already good school into an outstanding one.
He said: "It has had a fantastic impact on the students.
"You can see the level of concentration, they are more independent and are enthused.
"What we wanted to do was create spaces that enhanced learning and to make pupils attitudes to learning very positive."
"All the indications from week one in the new building is we are achieving this.
"The new school does what it was designed to do, it makes students feel as if they are all grown-up and therefore they behave in a more mature manner.
"If this school doesn't raise results to more than 80 per cent of 5* A-C grades at GCSE within a couple of years nothing will."
The new building boasts a science 'super lab, unique to Nailsea School, an auditorium, with seating for 350 people, two smaller lecture theatres, a sports hall, dance studio with ballet bar and sprung floor, music recording studios and an education centre.
There is also a media cafe, serving tea and coffee throughout the day and a juice bar, proving this school has everything it needs and much more.
Natural light, solar heating, rainwater for loo flushing and bio-fuel boilers awarded the building top marks in its environmental assessment.
North Somerset Council's executive member for children and young people's services cllr Jeremy Blatchford said: "I don't think the community has yet realised what they have got.
"I think it will make a huge change to the whole of Nailsea and I think it will raise the standards from a good school to an outstanding school.
"It is very interesting to watch the way the students walk, the way they conduct themselves, it is completely different. It is far more like a university than a secondary school."
Many of the school's facilities will also be open to the community for use by sports clubs and drama groups.
The school's official opening is on Monday, October 5, but builders will be on site until March 2010.
Demolition work on the old school, which celebrated its 50th anniversary during the summer, has already begun.
Open evenings for parents to look around will be held mid October.