THE building of a new £26.5m secondary school which will “give children wings to fly” is finally underway.

Local dignitaries and future pupils met at the site of the Deanery CofE Academy in East Wichel today as a special turf cutting ceremony took place.

The Rt Rev Dr Lee Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon, blessed the site, situated near Waitrose, and dug his spade into the ground before offering a prayer dedicated “to those who have worked hard to bring us this far”.

Dr Rayfield was joined by John Swainston, CEO of DBAT (Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust); Neil Dorrington, construction director for developers BAM; Councillor Fionuala Foley, cabinet member for children’s services and school attainment; and the school’s principal designate Linda Culling.

Mr Swainston said: “What a journey it has been from those first days in late 2013 when I met with colleagues to talk about the possibility of bringing and additional secondary school to Swindon.

“We discussed everything from how we would run the school, the subjects we would teach and the ethos we would create. And here we are, almost at the end of 2017 and just starting.

“I am delighted to look back to the beginning, to see the present, and to see the future.”

The £26.5m academy, which will be built by BAM Construction, will serve 11 to 19-year-olds and will boast enhanced sports and arts facilities as well as specialist suites for science and design technology.

It will also be the first Church of England secondary school in Swindon.

Coun Fionuala Foley said: “I am absolutely delighted to welcome you all here today on behalf of Swindon Borough Council.

“Everyone here agrees that education is the cornerstone of our lives and what an investment this is for our young people.

“It is a school which will be used for sport and will have an amazing theatre, but will also educate our children and give them wings to fly.”

The school will open in September 2019 and will be taking applications for Year 7 from September 2018.