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Somersfield plans $6m expansion

The Centre for International Education planned at Somersfield Academy, designed by Cooper Gardener and illustrated by Nick Silk (Picture supplied)

A private school is to start a $6 million expansion programme this summer to widen its curriculum.

Somersfield Academy aims to provide the full International Baccalaureate at the school, which was founded as a Montessori school in 1991.

Carlos Symonds, principal of the Devonshire school, said that the IB diploma marked a “natural progression” after 14 years of provision at the middle school level.

Mr Symonds added: “We are simply maturing as a school and coming of age.

“Most importantly, however, we are looking to give our students the choice to complete their final two years here in Bermuda at the school they have come to love.”

Mr Symonds said the introduction of the two extra years of the IB programme had been asked for by students as well as parents.

He added: “We are looking to provide them with the opportunity to complete their pre-university studies without having to endure a disruptive change of schools.”

The construction plan, however, has still to be given planning department approval.

The school, which has about 500 pupils, said it expected a gradual increase in enrolment with the two-year IB diploma programme.

Mr Symonds said Somersfield would “start with a very small cohort, around 15 students in the first year, which will enable the team to give them the very best attention”.

He added: “We’ll work our way up from there.”

“With the two additional years, there will be some growth.

“However, we are committed to preserving the special culture of our small school as these characteristics are what make our school special.”

Somersfield adopted the IB middle school programme in 2005, and Mr Symonds said students were familiar with the diploma.

He added the IB was “arguably the most respected international programme”.

Mr Symonds said: “While we are always pleased to see our kids excel and demonstrate that they can compete and meet the highest academic standards at the schools to which they transfer locally and globally, given that we do not offer the final two years, we cannot lay full claim to their successes, even though they may have started with us in our Montessori Children’s House at age 3.”

He added: “This will change ... and provide us with a true and loyal alumni base.”

The new building, to be called the Centre for International Education is expected to open by September next year.

Mr Symonds said: “After about 28 years, we will come of age as a school, which is pretty significant along our journey.”