Pupils at Robert Clack School strike a pose

The arts are now firmly at the heart of an east London school thanks to a multi-million-pound expansion.

The investment means students at Robert Clack School, whose motto ‘for the brave nothing is difficult’, will be able enjoy a new space dedicated to drama and music, built as part of a £6 million refit which includes 17 new classrooms and a sixth form room.

Tom Mather of Be First and Mike O’Dell of Mid-Group met with Headteacher Russell Taylor on 14 March to see how the pupils are enjoying their new arts space.

Headteacher Russell Taylor said: “Some years ago Robert Clack School agreed to expand its provision in order to support the council in providing more school places for the young people of our borough.  As a heavily oversubscribed school, we are pleased that our new buildings and facilities mean that more children can now be offered a place at their first-choice school.

“Robert Clack has always been committed to providing a broad and balanced curriculum, which includes a recognition of the importance of the arts, music and drama.  We are delighted that as part of this expansion programme we now have world class facilities to support our pupils’ world class talents!”

Cllr Evelyn Carpenter, the council’s Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement, said: “We are expanding our excellent schools like Robert Clack with the result that more parents in our borough are able to get their first choice of school for their child than anywhere else in London.

“And on top of this, more students are getting into the top Russell Group universities than ever before.”

Tom Mather, Construction Director for Be First, which advised on the expansion, said: “Be First is not just about building affordable homes for local people, we’re also helping to build communities and great schools like Robert Clack.

“It’s great to see the school embracing the arts because Barking and Dagenham is fast becoming known as London’s latest creative hotspot with new artists’ housing, workspaces and galleries popping up here.”

Mike O’Dell of Mid-Group, who built the new school buildings, said: “We’re proud to be part of building a brave school like Robert Clack, they are building lives and communities with their progressive outlook and values.”

The development also includes refurbishment, extension and remodelling of the dining hall, school entrance, reception and administration area.

It follows a £4 million expansion of the school’s lower site last year.