Hellesdon pupils celebrate county’s first cob classroom

Youngsters tucked into pizza and sat back to admire their handy work as they celebrated the completion of the county's first eco-friendly classroom.

Over the past 16 weeks, pupils at Arden Grove Infant and Nursery School in Hellesdon have helped build a cob classroom.

The project has seen all 208 children at the Cottinghams Drive school get their hands dirty as they joined in with the experts to help them make the roundhouse.

The building made from cob, a traditional mixture of clay-heavy sub soil, sand and straw, is big enough to accommodate 30 youngsters and will be used as an art studio as well as a base for outdoor learning.

It also features a cob oven which last night was used to bake pizzas for hundreds of children, their parents and invited guests at a special opening ceremony attended by Norfolk-based storyteller and children's author Hugh Lupton.

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Pupils Eve Parke, five, and Evan Leach, four, held the ribbon during the official opening.

The roundhouse is believed to be the first classroom to be made from cob in Norfolk.

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Pupil Izzy Fuller, six, said: 'I helped with the mud, it was really squidgy. It is big and it's fantastic, I feel special that I helped to make it.'

Macy Canwell, four, said: 'I stamped on the concrete with my feet. It is exciting and I am looking forward to having lessons there. Every week we saw it get bigger and bigger. My favourite part is the flowers on top of it.'

Macy's mum, Sarah, said: 'She put her handprint on the edge. She came home and talked about it loads. It looks lovely, it's really nice. I only saw it for the first time last week on sports day. Macy and my son will get a lot of use out of it.'

Headteacher Daniel Thrower said: 'It's been wonderful to see the children get stuck in and literally get their hands dirty. There's been huge enthusiasm and a real sense of building something that's very special.

'It will provide the school with some exciting learning opportunities in environmental education.'

The project was largely funded through grants and support from Broadland District Council, Norwich Town Close Estate Charity, Fitmaurice Trust, Paul Basham Charitable Trust, Reeves Property Restoration, Arden Grove Home School Association and NSJ Designs Ltd.

Experts from Devon-based specialists Earthed have overseen the build.

Broadland Disctrict Council's head of environmental services Andy Jarvis said: 'This is a fantastic building project that has given the children a chance to discover their heritage and explore the concept of sustainable living. We're delighted to have played a part in making it happen.'

Arden Grove is already a recognised 'eco-school' having achieved a second Green Flag for its outstanding provision of environmental education.



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