Pupils and staff at a Dover primary school have celebrated a significant milestone in the journey towards the opening of their new school site.
A group from Whitfield Aspen Primary School met special guests for a steel signing ceremony at the location where their new Key Stage 2 buildings are being constructed.
The children and their teachers and support staff signed their names on a steel girder that will form part of the new school building. They were told this simple act means they will always be a part of the school, even years after they leave.
Following his speech at the ceremony, head teacher Jason Cook said: “The steel signing marked a significant step towards the completion of our much-needed new school site and it was an exciting day for the pupils, and staff, who attended. It was great to be able to show pupils the beginnings of what will soon become their new classrooms.
“On behalf of the whole school community I would like to thank everyone who has worked together to get the project to this stage. We are very much looking forward to the Key Stage 2 pupils and staff moving onto the new Richmond Site in the near future.”
Representatives from developer Darwin Group Ltd, Kent County Council, property management company Gen2, Whitfield Parish Council and the school’s Governing Body also attended.
Lee Round, KCC’s Area Schools Organisation Officer for South Kent, said: “I would like to thank all those involved in getting us to the steel signing stage, especially Sue Meads as project manager, the school staff, pupils and governors. The expansion of Whitfield Aspen Primary School onto the new site at Richmond Park is a key moment in the development of Whitfield Urban Expansion as this will be the first community facility constructed. The new build will provide an exciting learning environment that will support pupils’ learning and development for years ahead.”
Over time, pupils and staff in Key Stage 1 (School Years One and Two) will remain at their existing site in Mayfield Road, Whitfield, while Key Stage Two pupils (School Years Three to Six) will move just a short distance away to the new site off Richmond Way.
As well as buildings to house 13 classes, offices, a main hall/dining area and care suites, there will also be an outdoor Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) where children will be able to take part in sporting activities.
Director of Darwin Group Ltd, Charles Pierce, said: “We are thrilled to be delivering the new 2 Form of Entry and SEN Expansion to Whitfield Aspen Primary School, which will inspire and motivate all those who work and learn within it. Darwin Group were excited to welcome all those involved to see the progress made on site, and to celebrate the milestone event with those who will benefit from it the most. Engaging with the pupils on construction projects is always a highlight for the project teams and signing the steel frame is a great way for them to leave behind a hidden legacy.”
Kent County Council identified a need for more primary school places in the Whitfield area after planning consent was granted for an additional 1,050 homes in the village, with proposals to build as many as 6,000 homes in 30 years. Included in the planning consent was provision for three new primary schools.
Popular Whitfield Aspen Primary School, which serves both mainstream pupils and those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) retained its Good Ofsted rating last month. Temporary accommodation was added on the current school site in 2017 and 2018 in order to enable the school to offer the additional school places needed, prior to the opening of the new site.
The new site will allow the school to increase from 3 Form of Entry (3 FE) to 4FE. It is anticipated the new site will be in use from September 2020.
The photos show pupils, staff and governors from Whitfield Aspen Primary School, staff from Darwin Group Ltd (in yellow) and representatives from Kent County Council, Gen2 and Whitfield Parish Council.
The close-up of a man signing the steel girder is head teacher Jason Cook.