New classrooms relieve pressure at Ottery school

MUCH-NEEDED classroom accommodation at The King s School, Ottery St Mary, was officially opened on Wednesday.

MUCH-NEEDED classroom accommodation at The King's School, Ottery St Mary, was officially opened on Wednesday.

The seven classroom, modular-built, two-storey block, cost �1.4 million and has been in use since Easter.

John Berry, chairman of Devon County Council, which paid for the extension, opened the new building and praised the 1,100-pupil school, which is hugely over-subscribed, said head teacher Faith Jarrett.

Robin Mitchell, chairman of governors welcomed Mr Berry and a presentation of a commemorative plaque was made.

Mrs Jarrett made representations to DCC about the lack of classroom facilities in the first year of her headship six years ago.

She said: "The extension was paid for by DCC because the school was full to overflowing. We had far too many students in the space and needed the new classroom block because we couldn't deliver the curriculum.

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"Devon instructed the school to take sixth forms. The pressure was getting bigger and unless we had extra classrooms we couldn't take another Year Seven in.

"The modular building was craned in and a seven classroom block built in eight months while the school was in session."

She said Wernicks' workmen carried out construction "without disruption" despite having to come across the middle of the school and bring in 40-ton lorries.

Mrs Jarrett said the company worked with the school on the design to produce the maximum classroom space.

The new block houses King's' expanding Geography department, the sixth form and IT room.

"We have consolidated the areas of the school. Geography is a successful subject and we now have all the Geography classrooms together," said the head.

She pointed out that if the education budget treated Devon more fairly in its allocation of the Dedicated Schools Grant "we wouldn't have to be scrabbling around and wait for these things.

"If we were funded to the national average my school would have an extra �400,000 in its budget.

"I could have saved up for two-and-a-half years and built it myself."

She said that money could buy each student a laptop or provide an extra 15 teachers "and that is aspiring to be average, not top."

Mrs Jarrett said the new block meant sacrificing outdoor space, making it more cramped for students during break and lunch times. However, they are encouraged to be outside "unless the weather is bad."

Devon's cabinet member for schools and skills, Christine Channon, said: "King's is one of our most successful and high-achieving secondary schools and it is pleasing to be able to provide extra accommodation and facilities for the hard-working students and staff.