AFTER decades of waiting and waving countless pupils through their Highworth Warneford School education, it has finally opened up its own, on-site sports hall.

The four-court sports hall and adjacent dance studio was formally opened on Tuesday but students and staff have been taking advantage since September.

About 18 months ago the school received a grant of £1.8m from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) to build the development and finally stop the long treks for pupils to the town’s recreation centre.

“We are absolutely delighted, it’s an excellent building and they’ve done a really good job,” said John Saunders, school headteacher.

“I’m so pleased because it’s providing facilities on the site the pupils really deserve.”

Disruption during construction for the past 12 months was kept to an absolute minimum by contractors Buildoffsite, which aims to carry out as much work as possible away from the location.

Mr Saunders said the school’s staff and pupils are already benefitting from new sports, with the physical education department adding more variety to the curriculum.

Outside of school too, there has been community use, with Highworth sports clubs, including netball, badminton and football, using the hall beyond school hours.

There are expectations this side of the hall’s use will grow and grow as news of its availability spreads beyond the town.

“It’s the first sports hall we have ever had, which I understand is quite unusual for secondary schools in this day and age,” said Mr Saunders.

“We have had a gym, but pupils had to walk down and use The Rec, which, although a short distance, was not ideal in bad weather and near a busy main road too.”

The head believes the EFA could finally see the need for an on-site hall at Warneford, after initially turning down a first application for a grant in April 2014.

“The pupils think it’s wonderful, they really love using it already,” he said.

“You can divide it up into sections too and have multiple sports going on at once, which makes it all the more versatile for them.”