Pupils from St Michael’s Church of England Primary school, part of Salisbury Plain Academies, joined the Right Rev Edward Conway, Bishop of Ramsbury, in a turf cutting ceremony today to mark the start of work on an eagerly awaited new school at Larkhill.
The event attracted lots of media attention - listed to two BBC Wiltshire broadcasts here:
The youngsters will be relocating to the school next September ready for the rebasing of army families back to Larkhill. The new building, which is costing £6.9 million, will accommodate up to 420 pupils and include a 60 place nursery.
At the ceremony Nicky Phillips, Principal of St Michael’s school said: “For any teacher having a new classroom is wonderful but having a new school is like being a kid in a sweetshop. The children who are with me here today represent the community of our school pupils and we are all very excited about our new, light and airy school.”
Class 2 pupil, Henry agreed as he viewed the building site for the first time. “It looks really big and I can’t believe how much space we’ll have.”
His fellow pupil, Isabelle, aged 9 from Class 4 said: “It’s very exciting and I am looking forward to having WIFI at the new school.”
The school children were joined by local dignitaries and helped the Bishop of Ramsbury with the ceremonial turf cutting.
Bishop Edward blessed the ground saying: ”This is a completely blank site and within a year it will be finished and it will be wonderful to have a Church of England school in the centre of this community.”
More than 400 homes are also being built near the new school for military families rebasing from Germany.
Lieutenant Colonel David Penniall MBE BEM RA, Deputy Garrison Commander at Larkhill said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with this brand new primary school here in the Garrison which will be up and running by the time our regiment and their families return in 2019.”
The school will be a two storey building with four main areas consisting of the school hall, two class room blocks and it will include a linked element of a ‘school street’ along with support accommodation. The project has been designed to a rating of BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Very Good, and will have a construction period of 58 weeks starting in summer 2017.
"This is such an exciting time: a new school of this size and calibre is a resource for the whole of our community, our partner schools and colleagues but, above all, it is the future for our children. Salisbury Plain Academies is delighted that the Bishop and so many guests have joined us to mark the beginning of that future,” said CEO of Salisbury Plain Academies, Helen Mathieson.
The new school will be open by September 2018 ready for the rebasing of army families back to Larkhill. By 2020 Larkhill Garrison will be the third largest in the UK.
Jon Daines, area director at Morgan Sindall, the construction and infrastructure company that has been awarded the contract to build the school said: "The start of a new project is an exciting time for all involved; as it marks the beginning of a journey. We at Morgan Sindall have completed a large number of projects across the education sector and our team understands how to work collaboratively with local communities to achieve great results. We are thrilled to begin this journey with the Academy and Wiltshire Council. Brick by brick, the new school will become a vital learning resource for families and children in Larkhill and we are looking forward to handing over the project in September 2018."