Diocese of Portsmouth

    Bishop helps to open new island school

    30 March 2023

    BISHOP Jonathan helped to open a brand new Isle of Wight primary school – as the pupils took centre stage.

    The new £4.5m Freshwater and Yarmouth C of E Primary School building was formally opened with an act of collective worship led by pupils. They sang lively worship songs, recited poetry, and showcased a video that revealed their favourite bits of the new building.

    Dignitaries – including the Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight Susie Sheldon – joined politicians, community leaders and parents in the school hall for the celebration, which included an explanation of the school’s new logo, values, slogan and name.

    The Rev Leisa Potter, team vicar of Freshwater, Yarmouth and Totland, led the school community in prayers before Bishop Jonathan Frost rounded things off with a short talk.

    The new one-form entry school was created when All Saints C of E Primary in Freshwater closed. Its pupils joined Yarmouth C of E Primary, which has now moved into this new building on the former All Saints site. It is part of a federation which includes Shalfleet C of E Primary.

    Pupils enjoyed themselves as they taught their visitors the actions to songs
    Pupils enjoyed singing and doing actions during the act of collective worship
    Bishop Jonathan talks to the children at the collective worship

    The new building was designed by Hampshire County Council architects and built by Morgan Sindall Construction with support from government funding. The project took 54 weeks, was finished four weeks early and staff and pupils have been using it since January.

    It includes new hard and soft play areas, a library, music room, a technology suite and a special needs resource base. All the classrooms are accessed via a single corridor, which also has multi-coloured breakout areas and roof windows.

    Headteacher Elizabeth Grainger explained that among the items that would ensure continuity were a beautiful stained glass window and a safe used by Lord Tennyson, which had been in All Saints Primary.  Some of the stone from the original Victorian building has also been incorporated into the new frontage. And the display boards showing the winners of the annual Effie Pitman award have been transferred from the former Yarmouth building.

    “I want to say thank you to the staff,” said Mrs Grainger. “Your care for these children astounds me every day, and you performed miracles to have this school ready over the Christmas break.

    “We did consult staff and children about the new name for our school, and in the end we decided that it was best to keep it simple – Freshwater and Yarmouth Primary, which reflects where we are and where we have come from. Yarmouth is a hugely important part of our history, so we wanted to acknowledge that.

    “We also altered the three Christian values slightly. The children wanted something about not giving up, so they are now Respect, Resilience and Relationships.”

    The new classrooms are airy and spacious, helping pupils to learn more easily
    The new school includes brickwork from the original Victorian school that was on this site
    The colourful new library at the heart of the new Freshwater and Yarmouth C of E Primary School building

    Among those performing during the collective worship were pupils who are part of the West Wight Dementia-Friendly Choir. Other year groups read out poems, held up artwork and led their visitors in songs.

    Year 6 pupils created a comedy video to show off the best bits about the new building, including the automatic doors, library, storage space, spacious hall and large playground.

    Andrew Parker, principal architect for Hampshire County Council, who designed the new building, said: “We wanted to create spaces where pupils could learn that were well-ventilated, allowed free flow, and were lit well. Each of the classrooms also has an outside space.

    “It was important to us that we retained the views as you approach the school, so we made sure we protected the trees at the front, and there is a great horse chestnut at the back. And the playground was a challenge because of the slope of the ground. We’ve dug into the grass bank to create it.”

    The former Victorian building that housed All Saints’ C of E Primary in Freshwater needed to be demolished as it was suffering from subsidence and structural problems. The new school is purpose-built and more appropriate for modern education needs.

    Cliff Kinch, area director of constructors Morgan Sindall said “Supporting and improving the local community is fundamental to our operations and it was lovely to see the children and staff of Freshwater and Yarmouth enjoying their new school. 

    "Projects on the Isle of Wight can often cause logistical challenges but the teams worked tirelessly to ensure that the scheme was delivered ahead of time and it was fantastic to receive such positive feedback from the school, and both Hampshire County Council and the Isle of Wight Council.”

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