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Norfolk infant school to start year as primary to offer parents greater choice

Children at St Michael's Infant and Nursery School in Aylsham, which is to become a primary school in September. Picture: St Michael's Infant School

Children at St Michael's Infant and Nursery School in Aylsham, which is to become a primary school in September. Picture: St Michael's Infant School

Archant

An infant school in north Norfolk is to begin the next academic year as a primary in a bid to offer parents greater choice.

Children and the Bishop of Norwich Rt Rev Graham James at St Michael's Infant and Nursery in 2015. 
Picture: MARK BULLIMOREChildren and the Bishop of Norwich Rt Rev Graham James at St Michael's Infant and Nursery in 2015. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

St Michael’s Nursery and Infant School, on School House Lane in Aylsham, will make the change in September, when it will take on its first cohort of year three children.

The school, which was built in 1848, was a primary school in the 1940s and 50s, but became an infant when the school system was reorganised.

But headteacher Catherine McMahon said becoming a primary once again would maintain the choice for parents in Aylsham.

“We are different to other schools here because we focus very strongly on the church, and we are a forest school,” she said. “Our outdoor engagement is very strong.

An aerial photo of Aylsham. Picture: Mike Page and Pauline YoungAn aerial photo of Aylsham. Picture: Mike Page and Pauline Young

“There has been quite a lot of development in Aylsham over the last few years in terms of housing, and making St Michael’s a primary keeps a choice for parents.”

She described the change as “undramatic but significant”, and said it would take the school’s overall pupil capacity from 108 to 140.

“It is sometimes talked about as an expansion,” she said, “but it won’t actually be a huge change in terms of the numbers.

“What it does mean is that it extends children’s education here, and means it is not interrupted.”

Mrs McMahon said the move towards becoming a primary had been ongoing for roughly three years, with plenty to get in place.

It will see the age range at the school increase from four to seven to four to 11, with a key stage two teacher already appointed.

In January last year, the school changed status from voluntary controlled to voluntary aided, which is where, in essence, a foundation or trust - usually a religious body - forms a majority on the school’s governing body.

The school has forest school sessions as a core feature of its learning, with pupils often enjoying outdoor learning.

St Michael’s was built on land belonging to an early grammar school, founded by Robert Jannys, a merchant from Norwich.

• Do you have an education story we should be writing about? Let us know by emailing lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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