THIS is the first look around Darwen’s new multi-million pound academy and sixth-form centre.

The Darwen Aldridge Community Academy is on schedule to open in September as the construction workers begin adding the final touches to the building which has incorporated a bridge into its design.

Scaffolding is coming down, classrooms are being painted, final building works to the dance studio, cafe and atrium areas are taking place and the three-floor sports hall has taken shape.

The imposing structure in Redearth Road towers over its surroundings.

The sponsor of the £45million academy and its principal say the five-storey building and its ‘top notch’ facilities will be an ‘asset’ to the community. The massive building, which will cater for 1,600 students currently operating out of the old Moorland site, is already showing the signs that school children will be moving in soon.

Bosses have marked up the building into subject areas, each with their own signature colour to help youngsters and staff make their way around come September.

Rod Aldridge, whose foundation The Aldridge Foundation sponsor’s Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, said: “Opening the new building is an emotional time for us.

"We started back in 2004. It has been a very long journey but a worthwhile one and demonstrates the determination of seeing it through.

“The young people have top-notch facilities that are really welcoming and provide an opportunity to learn.

“We are very fortunate to have a sixth-form centre which will be there for the first time. These are life-changing times.

“The academy is an asset to the community. We want to engage with the community, therefore to connect with it is vital and we look forward to working in partnership with them.There are no barriers – now it is about inspiration.”

Principal Brendan Loughran said: “We are really excited about the move to the new building.

“We have been clear from the outset that the community building is for the students of Darwen and has been designed with a sixth-form in mind.

“We have got a fantastic opportunity to make this academy a success that it is going to be.”