Investing in schools: meeting the demand for school places
Schools may be on the verge of breaking up for the summer holidays but preparations continue for the start of the new school year in September.
We are investing around £149 million to create 8,000 additional primary school places over the next three years with a significant number ready for this September.
Some of these places will be in brand new schools while others will be in existing schools which we have enlarged and enhanced, ensuring pupils and staff across Hampshire, have the best possible teaching and learning facilities.
From September, all children in their first three years of school will be entitled to free school meals thanks to the introduction of the universal free school meal offer. This is expected to increase the number of meals served by more than 20,000 a day across Hampshire. The County Council has a planned investment programme to support schools to accommodate an increase in the provision of school meals, to ensure every child who is entitled to a hot school meal will be able to have one.
This is all part of a wider package of investment in school buildings costing around £237 million.
Exciting projects include the creation of 420 primary school places at The Westgate School in Winchester to make it an ‘all through school’ catering for pupils aged from 4 – 16. This will be the first school of its kind in the county.
Another first is the building of a brand new primary school, Berewood, in Waterlooville, which will be run as an Academy, under Government rules for new schools, by the University of Chichester Academy Trust.
Here is a preview of some of the work underway to provide new and improved facilities from September.
The heart of the community
Designed to be an integral part of the new community at the Berewood development, west of Waterlooville, one of the key features of this £8 million new school is its semi-enclosed community garden entrance which will lead to the planned market square.
There are facilities for music and drama, a state-of-the-art IT and learning resource centre and a food technology classroom. They open onto outside space ensuring pupils have access to a range of exciting learning opportunities. Fourteen classrooms and associated offices and admin areas will complete the school, along with a range of outdoor learning and play resources, including climbing and balancing equipment.
Looking ahead to the opening of the school, Alan McMurdo, Director of Academies for the University of Chichester Academy Trust said: “We are immensely proud to be the academy sponsor for Berewood Primary School: we believe that education has the power to transform society and that the University has a vital role to play as a partner in our local communities.”
Growing together, learning together
Two projects totalling more than £6 million in Fleet are interlinked. The development of housing at the former Queen Elizabeth Barracks has led to an increased demand for school places. As a result, Tweseldown Infant School pupils and staff are looking forward to moving into their brand new school in September. Their move will enable the neighbouring Church Crookham Junior School to expand into buildings currently occupied by the Infant School. It’s a win-win solution for both school communities.
The smart, purpose-built accommodation comprises nine classrooms, associated offices, staffroom and admin areas, toilets, hall, food technology area, library and discovery/IT rooms and a group/community room. There is a central courtyard and all classes have access to outside teaching and play spaces.
Headteacher at Tweseldown Infant School, Kim Tottem, said: “The children are really excited and we are all delighted to be able to benefit from this brand new building. It will provide us with the best possible facilities to meet the demands of the curriculum. We are fortunate in that we have a very green site and the design brings the outside in. We will have green carpets to mirror the outside and the classrooms will be named after animals, these include: badger, rabbit, hedgehog, woodpecker and mole.”
Work will get underway shortly to enlarge Church Crookham Junior School. It will benefit from an enlarged main hall, new dedicated food technology areas and a music room, discovery/IT areas and special educational needs/breakout areas.
Significant investment into IT has been made at both schools. John Abbott, headteacher at Church Crookham Junior School said: “The extra facilities will allow us to provide the curriculum that we want for our children. It means extra opportunities for more music and food technology. We will be able to offer these as a matter of course now.”
Small but perfectly formed
One school where space is at a premium, in more ways than one, is The Crescent Primary School in Toynbee Road, Eastleigh. It sits on a very compact town centre site. Our Property Services have risen to the challenge, and work is now underway on a £5.6 million expansion project to provide the school with 210 additional places, to be completed next year.
When complete, the school will have seven new classrooms, a new main hall with kitchen and servery, new toilets, new entrance space and improved admin and staff areas. A larger main hall will enable the school to play a wider range of sports, and the design of the new facilities will enable community use out of school hours.
To maintain some of the natural habitat and wildlife on the urban site, a pond has been planned and bat boxes will be fitted to the new building. The current car parking will be moved to the rear of the school so that one of the key new features can be created – a new, welcoming entrance courtyard, developed in consultation with the school.
Headteacher Ben Dixon explains: “The entrance to the school is a very important aspect for us – we want people to feel welcome, safe, curious and inspired from the moment they come in. It represents our philosophy and connects our school community to the wider community. We are all very excited by the changes taking place at our school.”
Improvements have already been made in some of the existing teaching spaces to enable the school to take an extra class of reception age pupils.
The landscape will be transformed with new play areas, outside classrooms, story areas, and new hard court. The addition of synthetic turf over the sports field to ensure it can be used all year round, will complete the transformation.