£2.5million rebuild for Newton Pop Primary School

Head teacher of Newton Poppleford Primary School, Stuart Vaughan. Ref shs 3049-50-14AW. Picture: Ale

Head teacher of Newton Poppleford Primary School, Stuart Vaughan. Ref shs 3049-50-14AW. Picture: Alex Walton. - Credit: Archant

The £2.5million rebuild of Newton Poppleford Primary School will be good for the pupils and the community as a whole, according to its headteacher.

Surveyors have been on site and plans will be drawn up once the contract is signed.

Work could start as early as next summer.

But headteacher Stuart Vaughan (pictured) warned that the project is not yet set in stone and previous elections have meant bad news for ambitious building schemes.

“The new school hall will benefit the children, but it will benefit the community as well,” he said.

“Should it go ahead, I’m sure - for that 12-month period of building - there are things we’ll have to do differently, but it won’t impact on the children’s learning.”

Newton Poppleford’s school was among 256 allocated funding for rebuilding in 2011. The process has now got under way, and while teaching staff will get a say, the final decision will be made by the Government’s Education Funding Agency.

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The cash, expected to be between £2.5million and £3million, will help replace the school’s existing seven classrooms, hall and kitchen. The main school building dates back to 1876 and features two classrooms. The other five classrooms are in temporary buildings, which are up to 40 years old.

There is currently capacity for 210 children, but Mr Vaughan said the 180 pupils currently on the register mean the school hall is already a squeeze, especially at this time of year. Nativities have to be split into two or three performances so that all parents can watch.

But despite the pressure on school places and plans for more housing in the village, the project is not meant to increase the capacity of the school.

“There’s only so much money,” said Mr Vaughan.

“There’s an election in May and the history of school building and elections isn’t good.

“I won’t believe it until I see people digging. You’ve got to be a bit nervous.”

The coalition government scrapped Labour’s £55billion Building Schools for the Future project when it came to power, saying it was wasteful and bureaucratic.

More than 700 school building projects were scrapped.

The school’s PTA is hosting a Christmas fair at the Pavilion from 2pm to 5pm tomorrow (Saturday). There will be a range of games, refreshments and a Christmas hamper raffle.