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Catholic school now welcomes all ages from tots to teenagers
10:42am Tuesday 10th September 2013 in News
THE age gap between these youngsters and their oldest schoolmates is an impressive 11 years.
But it is hoped they will all get on well and be able to come together for nativity plays and assemblies.
A total of 22 four-year-olds arrived yesterday for their first day at St Gregory the Great School in Cricket Road – the first reception class the Roman Catholic school has ever taken.
The former secondary school is now Oxford’s first mainstream all-through school, taking children from aged four in reception to 19 in the sixth form.
The school, rated good by Ofsted in the most recent inspection in 2011, currently has 1,250 pupils which will grow to a capacity of 1,800.
Executive headteacher John Hussey said the first day had been “lovely”.
He added: “We have had no tears and they have played really well together and set about their lessons and all sat down to lunch together.”
It had been planned for the primary classes to be based in the Cricket Road Centre, but the school is still awaiting negotiations around the lease to be agreed. Following that, Education Secretary Michael Grove needs to approve the details.
Mr Hussey hoped the foundation stage youngsters would move in to their permanent home before Christmas.
Meanwhile, a former ICT classroom has been converted.
Mr Hussey said: “We have worked hard to convert that and it is a beautiful room, nice and airy and we have all the equipment for the children.”
There is also a yurt for the class which will be used for reflection and meditation.
Oxfordshire County Council has set aside about £3m for the new primary section and Mr Hussey said he did not believe the delay would have an impact on the budget.
The school can take up to 60 in reception.
The younger children are starting and finishing earlier than the rest of school, and their part of the school is entirely self-contained.
The youngsters come into the main school for their lunch and will benefit from its state-of-the-art PE and music facilities, along with specialist teachers in those subjects.
But the four-year-olds have yet to meet the rest of the school.
Mr Hussey said there would be opportunities for the whole school to come together on a variety of activities such as nativities, carol concerts and whole-school assemblies.
Early Years manager Hannah Forder-Ball said she anticipated sixth-form pupils in particular would work with the youngest pupils on community and reading projects, but the exact nature of how that would work was still being determined.
She said: “The children are in a space that’s set aside for them so really we will choose to introduce them to older children as and when appropriate.
“The all-through school allows us to provide a really nurturing environment for the children through their whole-school career.”
Weekly visits to Hill End Outdoor Education Centre and the local library are planned.