WHEN it opened in September 1982 there was no other school quite like it in Southampton.

Oaklands Community School prided itself on serving both the educational and leisure needs of up to 16,000 nearby residents.

It was the first school to be built in the city for 16 years at a cost of £2.4m - twice the original estimate drawn up three years earlier.

As well as classrooms there was also a large community block that could be used by local residents seven days a week.

These community facilities included a large sports hall, a gymnasium, a music and dance practice suite, a theatre, a youth room, a creche and a bar.

Southampton City architects described the new building on the seven-acre site as being a "mixture of English tithe barn with strong Japanese influences".

In a break from tradition many of the classrooms were open plan, with no doors and few walls as each year group had their own bases and staff across different subjects worked closely together.

However more doors and walls appeared with the introduction of the National Curriculum in 1988.

Built for 720 pupils, the school had 400 pupils on roll during its first year of opening, including youngsters from Shirley Warren Secondary School, which turned into a middle school, and youngsters from Oakwood and Sutherland Middle Schools at Lordshill.

However those first few pupils enjoyed an extra couple of days' summer holiday because of delays by the builders, which were blamed on the bad weather.

Just over half of the staff from Shirley Warren Secondary School transferred to Oaklands, including head teacher Peter Hollis, who was at the helm until 2006, when he was replaced by Sarah Howells.

It was a few months after it welcomed its first pupils that Oaklands Community School was officially opened by The Princess Royal in May 1983.

She unveiled a bronze plaque in the school theatre and spent more than an hour touring the new building after landing by helicopter in the school's playing field.

One of the highlights of her visit was a concert given by 50 pupils, culminating in a rendition of Sailing to commemorate the role of Southampton-based ships in the Falklands war the previous year.

One of the many former pupils' legacies that continues to take pride of place today is the tile mural around the pool made by fourth year pupils in 1986.

For many staff and students the school's motto Look After Each Other', coined by Mr Hollis, encapsulated the caring and egalitarian ethos of the school.

Throughout the years one of Oaklands' main strengths has been in drama and music, with school productions being taken to the National Theatre and the school's band Toxic Waste performing at The Millennium Dome.

The old clock from the waiting room for the Itchen floating bridge has also taken pride of place in the school's forecourt ever since the school opened.

In September the school will be part of the Oasis Academy Lord's Hill.