Over time, the school's buildings, on all three sites, aged badly.
In its 1997 report on the school, Ofsted described the accommodation as 'quite appalling', 'debilitating' and 'some of the worst working conditions the inspection team has seen'.
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The school is a specialist Language College, though it is non-selective.
It has approximately 1,900 pupils between the ages of 11 and 18 on roll, including around 400 in the sixth form.
There is also a school council, which contributes to the decisions made by the head and speaks on behalf of all the students in all years.