Oasis’s newest secondary school, Oasis Academy Arena in Croydon, has been declared open following a special ceremony attended by parents and community members as well as a host of local dignitaries.
Oasis’s Founder, Rev Steve Chalke MBE, and Councillor Trakas-Lawlor, Mayor of Croydon, conducted the formalities by unveiling a plaque commemorating the day’s events.
During the school-wide event, Oasis’s community hub choir, made up of pupils from Oasis Academy Arena, Ryelands and Shirley Park, performed and students shared the thoughts on ‘Inclusion’ and ‘Community.’
Rev Chalke then spoke about his own journey from South London schoolboy to beginning the Oasis charity and noting what a privilege it was to open a school in his home community.
“What a privilege and honour it has been to return today to the very streets I grew up in, to open Oasis Academy Arena. Over thirty years ago when I began the Oasis charity with the aim of transforming communities, I would never have dreamed I would be standing here opening our forty-seventh school.”
“While this is of course an exciting day for our current students, this Academy will serve South Norwood and the children of Croydon for generations to come, providing them with a first-class school in which to learn and grow together.”
He then addressed the students directly, highlighting the Academy’s motto of ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ and how, thanks to the staff and the new building, the students now have the opportunity to progress and grow, and realise their aspirations whatever they may be.
The students then gave presents celebrating the opening to representatives of all those organisations that made their school possible; Croydon Council, construction company Willmott Dixon, consultants Mott McDonald, the staff at Croydon Arena, and the South Norwood Residents Association.
Principal of Oasis Academy Arena Craig Griffiths said, "On behalf of the staff and students at Oasis Academy Arena, I want to say thank you to all the people who worked together to support, design and build this terrific new school. My staff and I are committed to making this Academy a place of exceptional learning, where every young person we serve will leave us as highly qualified, articulate and personable young men and women ready to lead happy and enriching adult lives. Today marks an important milestone in that journey.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people, and learning, said: “Over the last few years our focus has been on building and expanding our primary school provision to meet the demand from a rapidly growing population. We’ve successfully achieved that and ensured every child has a place. Soon, however, as these children grow up, we will need more secondary places. This new school is one of the first projects that will enable us to make that happen, and I’m delighted to see it formally opened.”
Oasis Academy Arena was built as the result of collaboration between Croydon Council and construction experts Willmott Dixon.
Russell Miller, Operations Director at Willmott Dixon said: “Since 2013, our team of education building specialists have been involved in 15 projects, creating over 6300 new school places from primary to secondary schools in Croydon. Having already worked with Croydon Council and the charity to deliver Oasis Academy Ryelands and Oasis Academy Coulsdon, we understand the importance of leaving a legacy and creating a fantastic environment for students to thrive in. Therefore, we were delighted to collaborate again on this project and deliver a state-of-the-art building that will be embraced for generations to come.”
Oasis Academy Arena is a new secondary school offering high quality education, with a focus on Sport and Science, for children aged 11-16. The Academy opened in September 2015, and moved into a beautiful brand new state-of-the-art building in September 2016. The Academy will eventually grow to full capacity by September 2019, with 180 places in each year group. Part of Croydon's Olympic legacy, the school is situated on the site adjacent to Croydon Arena Athletics track, and benefits from partnerships with local sports organisations.