Grand opening of The McHugh Building and Garden

Recently, Harrogate Grammar School students, teachers and support staff attended the formal opening of The McHugh Building and Garden. The event unveiled three new classrooms, an Atrium and garden built during the pandemic, all designed to accommodate the schools’ growing population.

The elevated ‘classrooms on stilts’ have also created much-needed space underneath for students to meet. The stilts are steel pillars, inscribed by children of key workers and vulnerable students who attended school during the pandemic.

“It’s not just a grand visitors’ reception but a focal point,” Richard Sherriff, CEO of the Red Kite Learning Trust, explained. “The team have created an accessible, welcoming entrance for students to arrive and connect with their friends.” Mr Sherriff also credited the solid partnership with North Yorkshire County Council, which resulted in the school securing £1.3 million for the build.

The McHugh building takes its name from Jim McHugh of the Red Kite Learning Trust. Jim has worked in education for 50 years. His history with Harrogate Grammar School began in 1975 when his wife Pat started teaching there. He became a governor in 2004 and later became Chair of Governors. More recently, Jim was integral in establishing the Red Kite Learning Trust as its Chair.

Opening the new facilities on the eve of turning 70, Jim McHugh said,
“I was speechless when I found out new building was being named after me. It’s a wonderful 70th birthday present. Above all, it’s so rewarding to see the amazing improvement here at Harrogate Grammar School. Not only with an outstanding OFSTED report, but also in creating such a lovely space for students to meet, to learn together and communicate.”

Neil Renton, headteacher at Harrogate Grammar School, added:
“Jim and Pat McHugh stand for commitment to children, for collaboration and positivity, so this is a fitting tribute to them both. This whole project also shows what happens when we come together with a vision to provide the very best for children. To achieve this, especially in the middle of Covid, is something we are immensely proud of.”

Mr Renton gave special thanks to Harrogate Grammar School’s award-winning PTA for their incredible support, raising £11,000 in the space of 3 months to fund a student garden adjacent to the new build. Kirsty Leedham said “I’m really proud of how we pooled all our resources. From online events during Covid, to one-off donations and a fantastic crowdfunder, we are so grateful to everyone who contributed and helped us reach our goal.” The PTA were awarded the Changing the Life of the School (Secondary) in 2022 at the National PTA awards, launched by Parentkind, for outstanding contribution.