The new £14 million Ashmole School in Southgate was unveiled last Tuesday, on time and to budget.

To celebrate the occasion, Professor Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, opened the building, in Cecil Road, which serves 1,300 pupils aged between 11 and 18.

Joining Prof Jones were headteacher Derrick Brown, school governors, Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Andreas Tambourides, MP for Chipping Barnet Theresa Villiers, Barnet Council leader Brian Salinger, and the council's cabinet member for education, John Marshall.

Assistant head Rebecca Hawkes said: "The opening was a great opportunity to show what a magnificent building the school is housed in, and it was also a chance to celebrate our greatest success, which is our pupils."

The original school buildings dated from the 1950s and suffered from such serious structural problems that the school could have been permanently closed had it not been for the sale to developer Barratt North London, 18 months ago, of 38 acres of school grounds.

The co-educational comprehensive school, which was established in 1958 and now contains a specialist science school, used the income raised to finance the building of a new school.

The main building complies with the Special Needs Act and Disabilities Discrimination Act and the school now features new sound and visual technology, an internet cafe in the sixth form common room and extensive indoor and outdoor sports facilities.

The council contributed an additional £3.25m to complete the cost of the redevelopment.

During the ceremony, Gary Ennis, managing director of Barratt North London, presented the company's award for best scientific achievement to student Snehal Khajuria.