Tennis courts were included in the original plans for the school which moved into a brand new building on the Orchard Road site in December 2009 but had to be put on the back burner because there was no money.

Today headteacher Patrick Hazlewood announced that work will start Monday to construct six new tennis courts, which are expected to be completed and open for use in early June.

The tennis courts will be sited on land between the school and the new housing development on the site of the old St John’s Upper School.

The courts are costing the school £250,000 which has been raised through a range of fundraising activities and togather with donations from the St John’s Foundation Trust and the St John’s Family and Friends Association.

Dr Hazlewood thanked parents at the school for their support which has enabled the work to commence and said: ““The tennis courts will be an enormous benefit to students at St John’s, and we will also be making the courts available for use by community groups during evenings, weekends and school holidays, giving a real boost to the provision of sports facilities in the town.

“My huge thanks to the many parents and friends of St John’s who have donated money to help us achieve this project.

“I am also very grateful to the members of the St John’s Family & Friends Association who have raised £15,000 towards the project, including £10,000 for additional student lockers which will be installed over the coming weeks”.

It was originally hoped that the tennis courts would be completed at the same time as the new school, which opened in December 2009, but this proved impossible and business director Barry Worth said: “Building the new St John’s has been an expensive project, achieved without the backing of any central government funding.

“ We paid for the new £26,500,000 building through a combination of land sale, fundraising, and a loan to cover the final cost of furniture and IT. The money we initially set aside for the Phase 2 project to complete the tennis & netball courts and artificial grass pitch was eroded when the new building came in 1.5% (£500,000) over budget”.

The tennis courts are being built by McArdle Sport Tec Ltd of Wallingford who aim to complete the project in two months.

The next phase of building at St John’s will be the completion of the Phase 2 plans, which includes the all-weather pitch.

Fundraising at the school continues for the £300,000 still required and grants and donations towards this project are being sought.