Comedian and bishop open refurbished C of E school
BISHOP Christopher joined forces with comedian Hugh Dennis to relaunch a church school in inner-city Portsmouth.
They re-opened St George’s C of E Primary School in Portsea after a £2m project to transform the building. The ceremony took place, appropriately, on St George’s Day itself.
The school has a new entrance foyer, office space, meeting room, library, science room and hall with raked seating after the building project. Architects designed the spacious entrance and curved library space to maximise the amount of natural light in the building.
Delighted staff, pupils, governors and parents celebrated their new-look school with an open day that included a special assembly and the chance for guests to see pupils involved in a variety of activities around the school.
The assembly included pupils performing a dance on the theme of George and the Dragon, dressing in costumes to re-enact the history of Portsea and the school, and singing to guests. Every pupil and every member of staff wore a commemorative t-shirt with their crest on the front and their names on the back.
Then Hugh Dennis cut a ribbon stretched out across the school doors to declare it open, before the bishop prayed for the school community and blessed the building.
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Headteacher Sandra Gibb said: “We have a fantastic resource and an amazing library. And our staff and pupils coped really well during 2014 while this was happening and our school was effectively split into two.
“We’re relaunching our building and ourselves today. This school is really friendly and has lovely children. The staff and children are dedicated to this place and our children can be successful and go on to do amazing things.”
Hugh Dennis told children he was pleased to be involved, as he went to a similar school in the Isle of Dogs in London.
The initial ideas to transform the building came three years ago. Among other problems, the school hall was used as at thoroughfare because there was no other way of getting from one side of the school to the other.
Architect John Parslow, from Portsmouth City Council, decided on the central location of the new library first, before creating the corridor bending around it. He also divided up a large classroom to create the new science and nurture rooms.
“Children previously circulated around the school by walking through the sports hall, which wasn’t ideal,” he said. “I originally drew the library as a blob in the middle of the school, as the library would give the school its heart. The school also didn’t have much of an impact on the street, but the new entrance now gives it a presence there.”