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New Sports Centre officially opened

Former headteacher Frances Howarth cuts the ribbon to officially open the new Sports Centre - Howarth Hall - with the School's Business Manager Lisa Barker and Headteacher Daniel Leonard.

A new Sports Centre at West Hatch High School, Chigwell, has been officially opened.

The building includes a four badminton court sports hall, sprung floor dance studio, classroom and state-of-the-art fitness suite. The opening ceremony was performed by former headteacher Frances Howarth. 

The new building is named Howarth Hall.

Current headteacher Daniel Leonard described the completion of the Sports Centre project as "the final piece of the puzzle" as the school sought to increase its facilities to help accommodate its growing student numbers.

Having agreed to increase the school's pupil admission number by an additional 60 students per year from September 2018, Essex County Council funded additional facilities at the school, building a nine-classroom English and Languages block as well as additional Science, Music, Technology classrooms and an extended dining area.

Mr Leonard said, "The Sports Centre is the final piece of the puzzle and the school now has the capacity it needs to support the additional students in each year group."

He added, "The students and staff at West Hatch have had to deal with significant delays, having been promised its new facilities in May 2019. We are delighted however to finally have been provided with outstanding facilities that the students will be able to enjoy for many years to come."

Mrs Howarth, who served at the school for 28 years, was Headteacher for almost 20 years before she retired in 2017. She originally joined the High Road school as Head of Music and after four years left to become a Local Authority Education Advisor before returning as Deputy Headteacher in 1993. She was appointed Headteacher in 1999. 

The opening of Howarth Hall was performed in the presence of Chair of Governors John Haley, members of the Governing Body, the school's Senior Team and other leaders, and Essex County Council School Effectiveness Partner Robin Harbord.

Mrs Howarth was passionate about sport and relentlessly explored avenues to build a Sports Centre at West Hatch. She said, "I feel very humble. It's something the school has wanted for so many years and it has been well worth waiting for. It's a wonderful facility that will give years of enjoyment to students and staff."

Mr Leonard said, "I am so proud of what we’ve achieved but also how well the students and staff have coped with the disruption and delays of the project. We finally have facilities we can be truly proud of and are able to provide first-class sports, science, music and English rooms for our students. We have been delighted to be able to take 60 more students from our community for each of the last three years with another 249 students joining us in September. We will continue to work hard to build upon our existing capacity and strive to always provide our students with a first-class educational experience."

"I’d like to thank the staff at Essex County Council for working with the school and providing us with such an amazing provision. I am also proud to be able to name the Sports Centre after such a passionate and dedicated Headteacher, Frances Howarth, who did so much for our community during her long and distinguished tenure.”

The school's sports facilities - including the swimming pool, extensive courts and fields and the new sports centre including the dance studio - are available for hire by external clubs. 

For more details, email the school's finance office at