New name unveiled for Hastings secondary school

William Parker and Helenswood students reveal the new school name
William Parker and Helenswood students reveal the new school name

A new name has been revealed for a secondary school in Hastings.

Yvonne Powell, executive principal of Ark William Parker and Ark Helenswood schools, has today announced that the name of the new combined co-educational school will be Ark Alexandra Academy.

Chosen by student council members at both schools, the name comes from the neighbouring Alexandra Park.

Presenting the new name that they had chosen, student council members said: “We wanted a name which was reflective of the locality of both schools, and which represents the local community and history of the area. 

“Alexandra Park was opened in 1882 and two lime trees were planted in the park to represent a new beginning and local growth. 

“We feel that this is symbolic of the new journey and the fresh start for our school.”

The students were keen to honour the legacy of the current school names and therefore they will be retained as site names: the lower school will be the Helenswood site and the upper school will be the William Parker site.

The students are also looking at ‘house’ names in the new pastoral structure which will represent people who were born or who resided in Hastings and whose work has been influential and highly regarded locally, nationally and internationally.

The combined sixth form will be renamed Ark Alexandra Academy Sixth Form.

Yvonne Powell, executive principal, said: “I am pleased that after a mature and serious discussion, the students have chosen a name associated with such a beautiful local park.

“As a co-educational school, Ark Alexandra Academy has seen an increase in interest and applications from parents of Year 6 children.

“We are looking forward to welcoming parents and children to the school.”

Stephanie Newman, principal of William Parker, said: “The rich heritage of both schools is important to us, and I am pleased we are keeping the connection to the existing school names.

“We are looking forward to welcoming alumni and the local community to celebrations of William Parker’s 400th anniversary later this year.”

The new bursary award programme for sports and performing arts, which were launched at the end of last year, will also take the name of the current schools - the Helenswood Performing Arts bursary and the William Parker Sports bursary.

These bursaries will be awarded in the coming weeks to students who demonstrate a dedication to their specialism.

Ark Alexandra Academy, which will open in September this year, will combine a rigorous academic curriculum with an emphasis on sport and the performing arts.

Consultation with staff on a new staff structure has started and will run until early March.

To help students get used to a move from single sex to co-educational classes, they are being provided with site tours and joint sports and arts activities. 

In February information sessions and site tours will be held for current and prospective parents.