Fire walk will help raise cash to finish school's revamp

The Oxford Times: Head Sally Clarke with, from back, Oliver Townsend, Jules Hartless, Caspar Wright, Aleksandra Jankowska, Emily Young and Leonard Butterfield-Price having fun with the furniture boxes. Picture: OX57804 Denis Kennedy Buy this photo » Head Sally Clarke with, from back, Oliver Townsend, Jules Hartless, Caspar Wright, Aleksandra Jankowska, Emily Young and Leonard Butterfield-Price having fun with the furniture boxes. Picture: OX57804 Denis Kennedy

A NEW classroom has opened at a Witney primary school but funds are still needed to complete the project.

St Mary’s Infants’ School, in Church Green, demolished its 1940s canteen to create the new classroom and outside learning space.

The keys were handed over last month and staff and pupils are now working to fit out the space.

But the school needs a further £15,000 to create a tricycle track and vegetable garden and has launched a fundraising campaign.

Parents, teachers and local residents will take part in a fire walk at the primary school later this month in an attempt to help raise the cash.

The project has been 10 years in the making and funded through the school’s budget and fundraising.

Headteacher Sally Clarke said: “It is incredibly exciting that we will be able to move in next term. “In addition to an airy, bright classroom space with floor-to-ceiling windows, it has got an additional teaching room with child-height sinks. The children have been in a cramped room for too long but now they have got a classroom set up for individual learning.”

The school’s original foundation stage classroom was described by Ofsted in 2010 as “very small and cramped for 30 children”.

The new facility is larger and features a disabled toilet and washroom.

Early years lessons will begin in the classroom from April 15 and the school is currently working to unpack 109 boxes of furniture.

The school now hopes to build a tricycle trek along one length of the building and beds to allow children to plant their own herbs and vegetables.

It is hoped the project can be completed during the summer and the fire walk – along 20-feet of burning wood embers – will help contribute.

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Mrs Clarke, who will take part in the fire walk, said: “We felt we had to reach out to the community, rather than going to the same parents.

“We felt something like this would be quite an exciting opportunity for people to take part in.”

She added: “Once the project is completed, we are going to be able to provide a centre of excellence for early years education.

“It is absolutely crucial that we give the children the best possible start so that they are fully in love with learning and education from the beginning.

“If they get the right environment to do that it means children can reach their full potential in life in the future.”

The fire walk event – which will include a barbecue and licensed bar – will take place at the school on Friday, March 22, from 6pm.

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