THIS is the first glimpse inside Bolton’s 21st century super-school.

Essa Academy’s £18 million campus is now fully operational.

The former Hayward School in Great Lever was closed in January 2009 and opened as Essa Academy — the first academy in Bolton.

Principal Showk Badat says the building, which is three storeys in parts, has “exceeded all expectations”.

He added: “The children cannot wait to get into school in the morning, and are not so keen to leave. There have been times I have to herd them out.

“I am immensely proud to lead this school.

“The building is so much more than we expected. It is stunning.

Parents, friends and family of the school are completely blown away. I feel so proud we have this for the community.”

The building is the result of two years’ planning, with input from pupils and staff.

Mr Badat said: “I designed the science labs, I wanted them to be used for practical experiments.”

Cutting edge technology is at the heart of the school — reflecting the school’s international reputation for pioneering ICT in the classroom.

A 3D theatre brings lessons — everything from science to drama — literally, to life.

And senior leaders say it is the same digital equipment used by international firms such as BMW.

The International Business Enterprise Centre has been modelled on a professional office environment, with windows — to help young people feel as they are part of a global community.

The library is free from technology because says Mr Badat, no matter how important this is, reading is still important.

Young people and the community can take part in sports on professional standard pitches, while pupils can relax in the tranquil gardens.

Mr Badat says the new building is also about fostering relations and encouraging young people to interact with each other and staff.

He added: “It has been designed to be welcoming. As you walk in, there is the canteen not a corridor where children and staff can sit and eat, and work. There are no offices, staff work alongside the pupils.

The staff have to be on their best behaviour too, there is nowhere to hide.”

At the centre of the building is the “heart”

of the school, where children and staff are “forced” to meet” as their lockers are side by side.

Mr Badat said access to state-of-the-art resources would increase already rising standards.

“A building does not make a school, sometimes it is thought a new building will change everything, that seldom happens”

explained Mr Badat, “It was important for use to start raising standards in the old school. This year’s record breaking GCSE results showed 100 per cent of pupils gained five or more A*- C grades at GCSE while 56 per cent achieved five or more A*- C including English and maths Mr Badat said: “This new building will complement what we were already doing. The teachers were dedicated and hard working and this has given them new vigour.”

He added: “I would want every school to have a new build. The message I would send to the Department for Education is schools can have a bespoke building for the money they are providing.”

Young people told of their excitement of learning in the new school. Michael Knight, aged 15, said: “This new building is an amazing resource and I feel really honoured this has been done for us. As it has been done for our benefit we have to show we will use it and study harder.”

Faith Isbellar, aged 16, said: “When I saw the building, I just went ‘wow’, I never imagined it would be like this. It is important for us to share this school with the rest of the community so they can benefit.”

Blean Azeez, aged 15, added: “ The technology in the 3D theatre is amazing, it makes it easier to explain things. I have never been to a school like this, and you feel like you really want to learn.”

● The new £36 million campus at St Catherbenine’s at Beightmet, is set to open next September.

It will incorporate a nursery, secondary school and sixth form.

It became an academy in September 2009 when the Withins School closed down and will bring the primary school, the old Top o’th’ Brow, and Firwood Special School on to one site.

● Building work is yet to start on Kearsley Academy which it is hoped will open in 2012/13. The academy opened in September 2010 after George Tomlinson School closed.

Government cutbacks meant the money it received, £12 million, was less than had been anticipated.

But the new campus will include Kearsley’s first sixth form centre.

The academy will cater for 950 pupils — 200 post-16.