ALDERMAN Blaxill School had a tough ride.

Opening in 1955 it survived two attempts by Essex County Council to close it.

Still, after a long and challenging fight, it shut in 2014 due to falling pupil numbers.

It was the end of an era when the school in Paxman Avenue, Colchester, was turned to rubble last year.

However, after visiting the building site where a new secondary school is planned, the impressive steel structure which now stands there resembles a phoenix rising from the ashes.

The period of uncertainty is over, and the time of fresh beginnings has come.

Earlier this week The Sigma Trust, which has been appointed as the sponsor of the 900 place secondary school, announced it would be called Paxman Academy.

A new name, but not one without meaning.

Jeff Brindle, chief executive of The Sigma Trust, explained the thinking behind the name, which commemorates the significance of the Paxman engine manufacturer in Colchester.

He said: “There was a lot of interest in the community about what the name of the school would be.

“Some people wanted to retain the old name and others wanted a fresh start.

“For me, Paxman Academy was a good name because it represents the school geographically but also marks the industrial heritage of the town.”

The logo, which includes images of a cog and a factory rooftop, associates with the Paxman firm.

As much as new beginnings are important, it was essential to remember the significance of the former school, and Mr Brindle said recognising that was a key factor.


Alderman Blaxill School was named after a former mayor of Colchester and chairman of the education committee Edwin Blaxill.

The school became an academy in 2012, and after its closure a couple of years later students transferred to Stanway and Thomas, Lord Audley schools, with which Alderman Blaxill was federated.

Mr Brindle said: “The new school is going to have its own community sports centre called Blaxill Sports Centre, we wanted to retain and celebrate the history.

“We didn’t want old students to feel like their school no longer exists.”

What a brand new school needs is someone with the passion and confidence to lead it.

Carol Anne Moffat, who is currently deputy headteacher at the Stanway School, has eagerly stepped up to the plate.

She visited the site for the first time this week, making her challenge all the more real.

She has spent a lot of time working with local authorities, as well as spending the past four years in her post in Stanway. Her teaching career started in Glasgow.

Speaking about her ethos for the new school, she said: “I want to do the best for the community.

“We want it to be a school that is central to the community which provides the best learning opportunities for children.

“We feel it should be a centre of excellence for STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), to encourage aspiration.”

As the first intake of students will be Year 7 only, the rest of the school will be empty.

The Sigma Trust wants to utilise all the facilities by inviting other schools to come and use them, including the 600 square metre sports hall.

With the mounds of rubble, scaffolding and busy workmen covering the site, it may be hard to imagine that within just over a year, this will be a new school welcoming the first students.

However, what can clearly be seen by everyone is a new way of thinking, an enthusiastic attitude which says ‘We have been through the worst, now it is time to give the students of the future the best’.

The battle has been hard fought but well won.