Schools start new chapter after £20m cash injection
PUBLISHED: 13:30 22 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:30 22 September 2020
A Norfolk village is celebrating its biggest revolution in education since schooling was made compulsory in 1880.
The massive shake-up in Hethersett has seen a new primary school built and major extensions to an existing primary and the local academy.
The £20m investment in village education has seen the establishment of two through age primary schools, each with a nursery, and a major building project at Hethersett Academy to provide state of the art learning facilities.
The biggest change has been at Woodside Primary and Nursery School, which has moved from its previous cramped site in Firs Road to a new £8m two storey building in Coachmakers Way on the new North Hethersett development to provide a 420 place school including a nursery for 56 children.
Meanwhile, Hethersett Voluntary Controlled Primary School is also in the process of having a £4m upgrade which will increase its capacity to 420 pupils with two forms per year. The new extension when completed will feature eight classrooms, a library, staff room and studio hall for younger pupils,
More than £8m has been spent on refurbishing existing classrooms and facilities and building a new block with 17 classrooms, art rooms, a digital media centre and a theatre at Hethersett Academy.
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In addition, numerous other improvements have been made at the school to incorporate performance areas, a new library suite, a state-of-the-art design and technology labs including 3D printers.
The school currently has 980 pupils but can accommodate up to 1,150.
Secondary director for the Inspiration Trust, which runs the school, and former Principal at Hethersett Academy, Gareth Stevens, said he expects the school to be full in three years.
“Initially it was planned to make the improvements in two phases. But by doing it all at once we were able to save some money. The more pupils we have, the more finance we will have coming in and that will give us the opportunity to employ more specialist staff which has already seen us appoint a librarian,” Mr Stevens said.
Hethersett’s county councillor David Bills said: “Hethersett received more than £20m from Norfolk County Council to spend on schools and education and it is exciting to see what has been achieved.”
The future of the former Woodside School building in Firs Road is still uncertain.
Its future use will be discussed by Norfolk County Council’s cabinet in October when it will be discussed whether the building will be “declared surplus to requirements”.
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