Colby School celebrates opening of hand-made pizza oven and other outdoor facilities

Queen Victoria may not have been amused at the idea of an outdoor pizza oven but pupils at Colby School have enjoyed building it - and can't wait to put it to good use.

Boys and girls at the north Norfolk primary school went out to play in Victorian bibs, boots and bonnets during a day of activities to celebrate the official opening of their new oven and a host of other outdoor resources.

Grandparents were also invited along to compare memories of their school days and to share an old-fashioned lunch of doorstop sandwiches and a slab of cake, all wrapped in brown paper tied with string.

The school's 132 pupils worked up an appetite for the picnic with traditional games such as hopscotch, skittles and hula hooping.

Some 90 older pupils at the school, near Aylsham, helped build the clay and straw pizza oven in the shape of a face, designed by 11-year-old Flynn Wilkinson. It has been christened Luigi, after the brother of video game hero Super Mario.

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The school has also had an outdoor classroom built and a bird hide, plus a new play area and an existing polytunnel has been converted into a 'hot science' site where live cacti are growing among plastic snakes and other desert creepy-crawlies.

A new hen house, with Buff Orpington chickens, and aviary, plus revamped vegetable and flower beds are also dotted around the school grounds.

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Head teacher Christine Mead said much hard work had been carried out by parents, staff and other members of the community and the school's Friends' group had contributed �4,000 towards costs.

'We continually find that children learn and remember better when they are enjoying themselves,' said Mrs Mead. The national emphasis on standards was important but it also mattered that children had fun. Last year the school had achieved its best-ever results with 100pc of eligible pupils meeting national targets for English and 95pc for maths. 'The focus is on fun and as part of that, the children are learning,' Mrs Mead added.

Niamh Plunkett, 10, said she loved being in the fresh air. But her favourite part of outdoor learning is yet to come. She added: 'I can't wait for the oven to dry out so that we can cook pizzas in it.'

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