£1m nursery extension creates new places at Doncaster primary school

A year ago, families were struggling to get nursery places in one most successful primary schools.

Saturday, 13th October 2018, 3:02 pm
Updated Saturday, 13th October 2018, 3:08 pm
Lily, Annabelle, Franklyn and Greyson, pictured on the new Trim Trail. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-25-09-18-BentleyHighSt-5

With 52 places, there were not enough places to go round for all those in the village who wanted a place at Bentley High Street Primary School

But 12 months on, that has changed.

Lily, Annabelle, Franklyn and Greyson, pictured on the new Trim Trail. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-25-09-18-BentleyHighSt-5

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Following a £1 million rebuilding plan, Bentley High Street Primary School has doubled the places to 104 places for three-year-olds  and four-year-olds.

The new building also includes a veranda, which allows youngsters to play outside even when it's raining.

It replaces a smaller building which bosses believed had seen better day, dating back around 50 years..

The facility opened at the start of term '“ and youngsters marked the opening by burying a time capsule.

Teja Skiukaite and LilyTopps, pictured in the Sand area. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-25-09-18-BentleyHighSt-3

Headteacher Rebecca Austwick said: 'It is a completely new building, paid for by a grant through Doncaster Council.

'Parents are eligible for 30 hours free child care, and it was important that Bentley was able to offer that.

'We think that is is a good thing for the local community that we can now offer twice as many places.'

The new building was opened by MP Ed Miliband in September at a ceremony which saw parents and governors also invited.

Ava Canavon and Jessica Bailey, pictured in the Reading area. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-25-09-18-BentleyHighSt-4

The youngsters were involved in creating the contents of the time capsule, to reflect their everyday lives.

They included a copy of the Doncaster Free Press in the capsule.

They also placed inside the container examples of pupils work. Every single class at the school contributed something to the contents.

There was also a broken tablet computer, and a Welcome to Bentley High Street Primary School booklet, along with specially commissioned aerial pictures of the school.

Deaken-Lee Thompson and Maxwell Wilson-Slater, pictured in the Maths area. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-25-09-18-BentleyHighSt-1

'The pupils knew what it was all about,' said Mrs Austwick. 'I think they were quite excited about someone in the future opening something from the past.'

The new building will have more usable space, she said, and having a nursery attached to the school helped start the development of youngsters earlier. She thinks the pupils will also benefit from the new covered veranda.

Chairman of governors, Andy Gray, was at the launch. He said: 'As governors we're excited to have this modern nursery.'

It is the first building project at the school since its kitchen was built in 2014, so meals could be cooked on site rather than brought in from elsewhere.

The school has seen a number of changes in leadership in recent years. Janis James, the former headteacher of the school, who guided to to outstanding status, is now chief education officer for the trust which runs Bentley High Street Primary, the Inspiring Futures Academy Trust, which is based at the school's premises. It also runs two two other schools, which had been judged by Ofsted as needing improvements.

Her former deputy, Mrs Austwick, stepped up the the headteacher's post at Bentley High Street, with Madeleine Davey appointed as her deputy, and Holly Pearce and Heather Cartwright appointed as assistant headteachers.

It is also looking to move towards increasing the number of events at the school which see parents getting involved with their youngsters in the classrooms.

This year they are running a number of events linked to literacy.

The idea is it will make it easier for the families to support their children away from school.

Mums and dads are invited in to participate with their children in the lesson.

There are plans for a family Hallowe'en event, and  Chistmas Craft day, which will see parents come in and help their youngsters to make festive items in the classrooms .

There is also an evening where the school showcases the curriculum for the families so that they all get to see what the youngsters are learning about over the coming school year, and there is a readathon planned which will see youngsters read as many books as they can over a week, whilst being sponsored for their efforts. The proceeds will be spent on buying new books.

It is not just the pupils' homes where the school looks to see its pupils learning outside the classroom.

Every year, the school's year six pupils take a trip to London, to expand their horizons and see some of the country's most well-known landmarks and cultural institutions.

The London trip has been running at Bentley High Street for years, but more recently has been extended to a residential trip, which sees youngsters spend time in the capital, including overnight stays in a purpose-run hostel at Elephant and Castle.

The itinery, organised by teaching assistant Angela Saunders, includes trips to the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, with the visit to parliament usually involving meeting up with the school's MP, Ed Miliband.

It was extended to a residential visit four years ago.

Mrs Austwick said: 'British values is seen as important in education now by the Government. We realised a lot of our pupils had never been to the capital, so we take them to see the landmarks and important places.

'We always take them to the Natural History Museum, and the pupils always love that, and we take them to a West End Show. When we went in July we took them to see Wicked, based on the Wizard of Oz. It's subsidised as much as we can, because we think its important that they visit the capital.'