Cockburn Laurence Calvert Academy officially opened

Baroness Judith Blake joined the Lord Mayor of Leeds and the family of Laurence Calvert VC to officially open the new Cockburn Laurence Calvert Academy (CLCA) in Middleton on Friday (5 July 2024).

Opening the event David Gurney, CEO of Cockburn Multi-academy Trust said:

“Education is the foundation of progress. It is the key that unlocks the doors to a world of opportunity. This new academy is not just a building made of bricks and mortar, it’s a sanctuary of learning, a place where young minds will be nurtured.”

He went on to quote Nelson Mandela, who said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

A student choir from the academy performed Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’, read the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’, and and impressive solo rendition of ‘My Way’.

Laurence Calvert’s grandson said it was a great honour for the family. He went on:

“It’s 106 years ago that my grandfather’s brave action merited him being awarded the Victoria Cross. But the main thing was that his action inspired those around him and they won the objective and they won the day. I think it is now very fitting that this school is named after him and I hope it will inspire you to succeed in your chosen fields.”

CLCA’s Head Girl spoke on behalf of the students and said that the story of Laurence Calvert

“Inspires us to be aspirational and reach beyond the expected. Thank you to the Calvert family for sharing your name and inspiring generations of students to come.”

Baroness Judith Blake, who was previously a ward councillor for Middleton and Leader of Leeds City Council, joked that her biggest challenge in getting the new school built was persuading the Highways Department to move out of the former Middleton Park high school which was demolished to make way for the new academy. She went on to thank everyone involved in the building of the new school before officially opening the new school by unveiling a plaque with David Gurney.

The ceremony also included the unveiling of the commemorative stone recognising the former Cockburn Grammar School student’s Victoria Cross, awarded in 1918 during the First World War. The stone is part of an initiative marking the centenary of the end of that war to place a stone on the street where those awarded the VC lived. Laurence Calvert’s street was demolished and so the stone now has pride of place at the entrance to the school that bears his name. The stone was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Leeds and Laurence Calvert III.

Vicky Smith, Head of School at CLCA closed the ceremony, thanking everyone who had helped bring the school to fruition, saying:

“We have created something remarkable here. Staff, students, governors, parents and carers have now established a thriving new community that puts education at the heart of our work inside this wonderful building.”


Main Photo: David Gurney (CEO, Cockburn MAT), Baroness Judith Blake and Vicky Smith (Head of School) with the first two pupils to be given places at the school


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