AN overcrowded school is set to be transformed after being awarded £1.6 million to build vital new facilities.

There were jubilant scenes at Shipston High School – once dubbed ‘the Cinderella school’ due to an historic lack of investment – after Warwickshire County Council announced its decision to award the cash for a new extension.

It has been an anxious wait for the school, which secured planning permission in June to start the project.

But there were doubts it would ever be able to go ahead after a previous £1.4 million funding bid to the Department of Education was unsuccessful.

But now the school is celebrating after learning it will receive the cash from education secretary Michael Gove’s “targeted need” funding programme.

Headteacher Jonathan Baker said it was the best start to the new year the school could have wished for. “We’re absolutely thrilled to bits,” he said.

“It’s been a real boost to the school. We are really delighted with the news not least because we have been planning and working hard on getting the project off the ground.”

Work on the new building, which will contain six new classrooms along with office space, new student toilets and a large open-plan resources area, is hoped to start in the spring.

The building, which will be on two floors, will also have a lift making it the only part of the school to be fully accessible to people with disabilities.

With the school rocketing in popularity over recent years, it has become heavily over-subscribed and now has more than 450 students crammed in a building designed for 388.

“We’re bursting at the seams,” added Mr Baker.

“When the new building is open it will really make a huge difference.

“We are already making plans to start a huge fundraising appeal for the next phase of our project, to build a four-court sports hall for the school and its wider community.”

Coun Heather Timms, portfolio holder for children and schools, said: “We have been delighted to work with the school to secure this funding which will help meet growing demand for secondary school places.

“Ensuring we have enough school places is a high priority for the council and in the case of Shipston and its surrounding area, we are keen that students in rural locations should not have to travel further to school than necessary."