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Cranbrook's first school opens its doors to pupils for the first time on Friday (7 Sept).
The £3.6 million St Martin’s C of E Primary will serve the new Cranbrook community in East Devon.
Children from families who have already bought homes on the new development will join pupils from the former Clyst Honiton primary which closed this summer.
St Martin’s will grow with the new community and will eventually accommodate 420 children with a 26-place nursery.
Every classroom is equipped with the latest Apple technology and has its own outside space.
There is a purpose-built Foundation Stage, an airy and spacious hall, a library at the heart of the school and a dedicated kitchen which will supply meals to other schools and contract outside catering.
Outside there is a large woodland, a pond with a pontoon, a large playground and extensive playing fields.
Headteacher Tania Beard said: “I am very excited about our incredible facilities and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to start a school from scratch.
“St Martin’s is going to be the hub of this community and we will grow with the community.
“We have incredible facilities throughout the building and a huge area of woodland with a pond and a pontoon which we will use for pond-dipping and will be part of our Forest School.
“The children will grow fruit and vegetables in their outside areas and our chef will include their produce in the lunches he cooks and the other meals he will produce.
“We know that good emotional health is absolutely essential for effective learning and so we have created a Wellbeing Centre. This space will ensure that all our children, staff and parents have access to the best possible information and support so everyone can learn successfully.
“We will be working with education, health and social services through the Wellbeing Centre to help promote health and wellbeing across the community.
“We will also be providing a breakfast and after-school club and a holiday club.
“We really do intend to be at the heart of the Cranbrook community and a key hub as it grows.
”I also want to pay tribute to our builders for getting us in on budget and on schedule and to all our contractors who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to get the school fitted out and ready for the children.”
Devon County Council leader John Hart said: “Too often, developers are allowed to build extensive housing estates without providing proper community facilities.
“Here, the County Council has worked closely with East Devon District Council, the diocese and the developers to ensure that families moving into Cranbrook have some of the community resources they will need right from the start.
“I visited the new school last month and I am sure the enthusiastic and talented head and staff and the superb facilities at St Martin’s mean the children will enjoy an excellent education from day one.”
The pupils will start school on Friday with a treasure hunt to find their way around their new building.
The ‘treasures’ will be different people who will be offering a range of experiences inside the school and in its grounds.
Matthew Mason from the Jack in the Green will be teaching cooking in the food and technology room, Summer Manley will be teaching gymnastics in the hall, librarian Nicola Cowling will be telling stories in the library, Exeter Chiefs will be coaching rugby on the playground, Alan Bruford from Escot will be cooking on a campfire in the forest and the after-school care provider FISH will have arrange of activities in the playground.
Caterers Norse are providing a free lunch for every pupil based on a treasure hunt theme.
East Devon District Council always wanted the school and the community hub buildings to be constructed early in the development, along with major improvements to public transport and road infrastructure, to ensure the development of a sense of belonging and place for the first residents from day one.
East Devon District Council leader, Paul Diviani said: “This is a wonderful day for Cranbrook and a wonderful day for the children, especially the former pupils of Clyst Honiton who are able to start their new term in this fabulous new building.
“Led by Tania Beard, these young people will bring a tremendous energy and enthusiasm to the new community and this is so important in the formative years of Cranbrook.”
Exeter Diocese Director of Education, Philip Mantell, said: “St Martin’s is a Church of England Voluntary Aided primary school and our Diocesan officers have been thrilled to be working with Devon County Council and the build team in producing such an exciting new school.
“It will be a wonderful resource for the community, led by Tania Beard and the governors, who have already shown great drive, determination and creativity to ensure that the children get the very best resources and facilities available.”
The South West RDA’s Regional Infrastructure Fund contributed £5 million of forward funding with £1.5m from Growth Point Funding to ensure the school and community hub were completed early on.
Both funds are now managed by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
HCA Head of Area, Ian Knight, said: “We have supported the vision of a new community at Cranbrook with a range of investments which have been used to deliver new homes, infrastructure and an energy centre at the site.
“The new school forms an additional and important strand of the HCA’s work to help build a sustainable new community here.
“This investment is bringing new opportunities, facilities and homes to Cranbrook, ensuring that it will genuinely thrive as a vibrant new community.”
Mike Owen, Project Manager, said on behalf of the New Community Partners (Hallam Land, Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey Homes), “To be in a position to provide these core items of infrastructure which will be at the very heart of the new community at such an early stage is testimony to the partnership that has been established between the key stakeholders.
“The support funding is not only enabling the early delivery but is also supporting local construction in providing much needed employment at this challenging time for the industry.”
Posted on: 4 September 2012 Devon News Centre