WORK has started on a new secondary school for 900 students in Colchester.

Barnes Construction has been awarded the £14 million contract to build the new school which will replace the former Alderman Blaxill school in Paxman Avenue.

Essex County Council chairman John Aldridge and Ray Gooding, councillor responsible for education, visited the site to take part in a ceremony to mark the important milestone.

The new school includes a three-storey building with 20 classrooms, a library, a suite of science labs, technology workshops and a sports hall.

Outside there will be a new multi-use games area and grass sports pitches.

The new school was designed by Concertus.

Mr Aldridge said: “We are delighted the construction work for the new secondary school in Colchester has started and our plans for the project are progressing well.

“The new school building at Paxman Avenue will provide excellent facilities for young people.

“We are committed to investing in our schools to ensure young people throughout the county are able to access a high quality education which will prepare them for their future career.”

Mr Gooding said it was an important milestone for the new secondary school.

He added: “We have spent around £25 million creating 1,700 new school places in the Colchester area since 2013/2014.

“The new school will create 900 new places to help meet the increasing demand as Colchester continue to grow.

“We hope the building works will be completed ahead of September 2019.”

The programme of 67 weeks will ensure the new school is completed ready for the new school year in autumn 2019.

The old school, which opened in 1955 and was named after educationalist and former mayor Alderman Blaxill, had a turbulent history, twice being saved before finally closing three years ago.

It is not known what the new school will be called yet but councillors said residents could have a say.