PLANS to completely transform an overcrowded school in Shipston are moving forward with work set to start in the autumn.

As previously reported, Shipston High School was awarded £1.6million in January by Warwickshire County Council for the first phase of an ambitious multi-million pound project to complete redevelop the school and cater for more students.

Contracts have now gone out to tender to five companies for the first phase - some local and some from further afield - and designs are now being finalised.

The new building - which will have white render on the outside and blue brickwork at the back - will contain six new classrooms along with a state-of-the-art language laboratory, office space, new student toilets, a large open-plan resources area and a lift for disabled students.

In the meantime, three temporary classrooms will be built while the work is carried out and it is hoped it will be finished by Easter or May next year.

Headteacher Jonathan Baker said: "The building really will be a statement that Shipston High School has moved in the 21st century.

"When you think the school has not had any major capital investment for 50-odd years, it's a bit of a milestone."

The new school, which has rocketed in popularity over the past few years, has become heavily oversubscribed with more than 460 students crammed in a building designed for 388 next year.

"We are over capacity, we're using every available classroom as space," said Mr Baker. "When we're in the new building we will be able to spread out more. We're hugely delighted the new building is going to be occupied by maths and modern languages.

"They are excited and already making plans for what they are going to do with the new building."

Mr Baker said the school may have to expand even further by 2030 and increase to about 800 students.

But he said he was determined it would not effect the school's ethos - which makes it so popular with parents.

"The governors are adamant they don't wish the school to lose it's small school ethos," he added. "What we would want to do is maintain the current ethos, that's very important to us."