Over 200 new places have been added at a popular Bristol primary school as part of the council’s ongoing partnership work to ensure there are enough places for every child in the city.
Whitehall Primary School has expanded its capacity by a third and is now able to accept 30 extra pupils each year, starting with last year’s reception intake.
Yesterday (26 April) the school hosted an event attended by pupils, teachers, parents, governors and the Lord Mayor Cllr Lesley Alexander. The Lord Lieutenant Peaches Golding, Her Majesty’s representative in Bristol, also attended to celebrate completion of the works.
The project was delivered through a partnership between Bristol City Council, the Local Education Partnership (LEP) and Skanska. The expansion took place in three stages to minimise disruption to the pupils.
Cllr Anna Keen, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “Partnership working is at the heart of our approach to creating more education places and the Learning City Partnership board has been central to enabling this.
"We are driven by the ambition to give every child a good start in life so it’s rewarding that more local children can now benefit from an outstanding education at Whitehall Primary School.
"By creating the right environments for young people to learn we hope to help raise aspirations. On my visit to Whitehall Primary I was struck by how the new building brings the school community together and very impressed by how much the staff and children love learning.”
As part of the initial expansion work a derelict sports pavilion was transformed into three new classrooms, new staff facilities and teaching spaces. A large hall on the first floor was also refurbished, which can now be used by the school for assemblies and other events and is available for hire by the local community.
The second phase saw the construction of a new, two-storey building adjacent to the pavilion creating six new classrooms and a number of specialist teaching spaces, connected to the existing pavilion by a first floor bridge. During the final stage a significant section of the school’s existing buildings were refurbished.
Sarah Allen, headteacher at Whitehall Primary School, said: “The local community has been very supportive of our expansion. The Edwardian building, which houses an enormous concert hall with stage, has an interesting history and has been used by those who have lived and worked in Whitehall for many years, we are so delighted that this can continue. Our school has been transformed by the works and the light, modern teaching spaces will be enjoyed by generations to come.”
John Brennan Skanska’s project director, said: “Whitehall is a great example of the results which this partnership has been delivering across Bristol for many years now. The refurbishment of the pavilion has brought an important local building back into use, and it has been joined by a new building to create a number of bright, modern learning spaces.”
In the past few years over 10,000 additional primary places have been created across Bristol, and the council is continuing to look at how we can meet demand across all education stages. Three new secondary schools have been approved by the Department for Education (DfE) in the north, east central and southern areas of the city, which the government is responsible for delivering. In the medium term a number of existing secondary schools are being expanded to meet demand.