A brand new £3.9 million primary school has opened its doors in Burton – complete with an outdoor classroom, speakers in the ceilings and touch-screen interactive “whiteboards.”
Henhurst Ridge Primary Academy, in Henhurst Ridge, initially launched to a small number of reception pupils in October, 2018.
The school currently teaches 19 children aged four and five, with an extra 11 admissions available for September this year – the deadline for parents to apply is January 15.
But the school plans for their extensive facilities to gradually house more and more children, from nursery age to year six, hoping to reach full capacity of 425 children within seven years.
Headteacher Charlotte Hopkins started at the school after six years at Anglesey Primary Academy in Clarence Street, where she had spent four years as head.
She said: “It was an amazing opportunity to start a school from the beginning, a blank canvas – to put my own stamp on it.”
Mrs Hopkins was able to make her mark on a range of features of the school, from different sections of the curriculum to the colours of the walls.
She eventually settled on a purple and yellow theme, which is evident throughout the school, including on the pupils’ uniforms.
She said: “I didn’t want to make it too clinical, especially for younger children – you want them to feel at home here.”
And she said the new facilities had received “positive feedback” from prospective parents.
“They’re really impressed with what they see,” Mrs Hopkins said.
“That’s in terms of the facilities, and how colourful and inviting it is.”
Each area of the school has been designed to give the children a seamless, technologically advanced and eco-friendly learning experience.
The school, which is part of the REAch2 academy group, is also kitted out with the latest educational technology, including Promethean boards in every classroom.
The Promethean boards are interactive whiteboards which can display projected images from computers, tablets, or even an external camera.
There are also speakers embedded in the classroom ceilings to produce high sound quality as clear at the back of the class as it is at the front.
Ipads are also used as educational tools for the children and for the teachers to record and assess their progress and are protected by chunky cases to prevent them breaking in the hands of eager pupils.
There are also top-of-the-range kitchen facilities and an ‘outdoor classroom’ consisting of an arrangement of young trees with benches that can be taken inside during poor weather.
The large school field, which backs onto farmers’ fields, also features a caged artificial sports pitch.
Mrs Hopkins said: “It’s been a once in a career opportunity but it’s so rewarding because you go and see the children and see how much they’re loving to learn.
“And the parents have been really supportive and really involved with everything too.”
Staffordshire county councillor Philip White, cabinet member for learning and employability, said: “The new school at Henhurst is just one part of delivering our ongoing plan to ensure there are enough school places in Burton to cope with growing demand in the area.
“After moving into the new building in October, the children are now settled in and are getting on with enjoying learning and playing in their brand new, state-of-the-art school.”
A ceremonial official opening of the school is due to take place on March 14.
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