Children at Thetford primary school start the term in new building
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
The first day of the new term was a special occasion for pupils at an expanding primary school.
For when pupils arrived at Drake Primary School in Thetford yesterday they were able to see inside their new school building for the first time.
Moving into the building marks the end of the second construction phase at the school in Fairfields, which is undergoing a £4.8m expansion to increase its pupil capacity.
Containing 10 new classrooms and a new hall, the building will accommodate all of the school's 240 pupils while refurbishment works take place in the old adjoining building.
When the project – being managed by Morgan Sindall – reaches completion in June, the former infant school will have 14 classrooms to accommodate up to 420 pupils from Reception to Year Six.
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Headteacher Mary Bartrop, a staff member at the school for 24 years, said watching the construction project was like watching the transformation of an old friend.
'We are very pleased with the new building. It is clean, crisp and smart and it is a good environment for children to learn in.
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'It was quite emotional to say goodbye to the old building, but we are Drake Primary now – it is a new era.
'I still think the family atmosphere will remain, because the children will be staying on and growing with us.'
Mrs Bartrop added that pupils' parents have been invited to an open day to explore the new building.
John Stedman, senior project manager at Morgan Sindall, said the new building had been finished a week ahead of schedule, allowing staff to move equipment and furniture into the new building over the school holiday.
He said: 'For us the job has gone really well. There have been quite a few challenges but we have worked well together and there has been a good mutual spirit between Morgan Sindall and the school.'
Chris Hey, head of place planning at Norfolk County Council's children's services department, said: 'With the growth of population in Thetford we need to create more pupil places, and enlarging this school allowed us to create an all-through primary school. There is a continuity of the education experience for the pupils and their families, which is a great benefit.'
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