Pupils give top marks to King David campus
Skeleton staff: King David pupils and teachers making themselves at home on their first day in the new campus
Pupils at Manchester King David Schools switched to their new £22 million state-of-the-art building this week - and liked what they saw.
As the three-storey campus opened its automatic doors on Tuesday, 650 students - just over half the schools' total - got their first glimpse of the 100,000 square foot property as part of a staged transfer from KD's dated former buildings. High school pupils were given a guided tour with accompanying maps to help navigate the maze of 70 rooms.
Sports facilities were an immediate eye-opener. Particularly pleased to see the spacious gym was sports captain Rachel Green, 18, who moved to KD from Bury Grammar at 13, sacrificing a promising netball career for a Jewish school education.
"I'd basically given up netball because King David wasn't able to train and enter leagues or matches," she said. "This is really good. We've never had facilities like this."
Charles Burns, 18, who moved from Manchester Grammar at 15, said the multi-use playing pitches would be a big selling point for prospective pupils.
Teacher Jane Turner helps Samara Winston, 15, Georgia Fisher, 16, and Chaya Fligg, 15, get their bearings
Deputy head boy and cricket team captain Jake Woolfstein suggested that KD "could be a host to tennis or cricket matches with other schools, perhaps with Muslim or Christian schools. That could really help a cohesive society."
Adrian Cohen, who will be leaving to study architecture at Nottingham University, believed the long and minimalistic corridors would not alter the homely atmosphere referred to as the "KD bubble".
"It will be a different KD but we'll all adapt and will bring a little bit of the family feeling into the new building."
But praise was less universal for the toilets, whose cubicles are partially visible from the corridors, a design borrowed from other schools with the intention of preventing bullying or pupils congregating.
Imogen Krell, 16, thought the more exposed toilets would discourage girlie chats, although her overall impression of the campus was favourable. "I think the new building will be a big draw. My brother chose to go to Manchester Grammar because of sports, but these facilities will bring more people in."
Sixth-former Serge Fagelman - who spent two hours travelling the three miles from his Whitefield home in the snow - was one dissenting voice, saying the campus lacked character. "It looks like a hospital. Clearly the new school is better, but the old King David was a lot cosier."
Some of nearly 80 pupils who take the bus from Leeds arrived two hours late because of the wintry weather. But first impressions were warming for Itai Yechezkel, 17, from Alwoodley, who thought the new KD would strengthen the argument for the proposed Jewish secondary school in Leeds.
"People would always prefer a Jewish school in Leeds. But if it doesn't happen, King David will encourage more kids to come to Manchester."
Parent and former KD pupil Elisabeth Huller said the building "would make a huge difference" to her five-year-old daughter Grace, who was most excited about the new playground.
Governors' chair Joshua Rowe praised Manchester City Council planners for giving KD the freedom to customise much of the standard government design. The overall effect was "ultra modern", with "superb buildings to match superb education".
The school still has to raise the £2 million it agreed to bring to the project and has launched an appeal.