A MULTI-MILLION transformation of Waltham Forest's biggest college is under way.
New facilities at Waltham Forest College in Forest Road, Walthamstow, will include a new learning centre, a student union and a market place with a butcher and baker when the partly government-funded scheme is completed in September 2013.
The new buildings are hoped to change the learning experience of many of the 14,000 students aged 14 upwards enrolled at the college, rated satisfactory by Ofsted in 2010.
Work has started on the learning centre, which will include a workshop, two classrooms and a craftroom, and will also lead onto a landscaped courtyard with a recreation area, paid for with £3.3 million raised through a government grant as well as a bank loan last year.
A new grant of £4.9 million raised through the Skills Funding Agency and the school's own investments will pay for a new market place and a start-up business centre for new enterprises, as well as a 70-seater state-of-the-art lecture theatre to meet an expanding intake.
The college's Lowery Building will also get a facelift, while fashion workshops will be renovated into bright, modern workspaces.
A new student zone, including a student union, will replace an ageing learning resource centre on the third floor, where students will be able to relax and take part in activities after lessons.
Principal Robin Jones said: "It's going to enormously improve the experience of students here. Our students deserve state-of-the-art facilities to go on and have successful careers and we are providing that.
"Attendance and punctuality have got better this year already so hopefully people are keener to come in to work in the new environment.
"We are committed to ensuring that our students and staff enjoy teaching and learning in the most up-to-date facilities we can provide."
Mr Jones said the college, which celebrates its 75th anniversary next year, missed out on an £86 million renovation not related to the abandoned Building Schools For the Future project when the government began implementing cuts.