School bids to end cramped conditions

5:00pm Monday 13th February 2012

By Tom Jennings

CHILDREN at a Witney primary school could have a brand new classroom and outside learning space by September.

St Mary’s CofE Infants’ School, in Church Green, has applied to demolish its canteen to create the new facilities for foundation stage pupils.

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

The new facilities will be much larger and will incl-ude a disabled toilet and washroom and a covered area for children to learn outside.

The school will fund the project itself and, although it has enough cash to pay for the building, governors are fundraising to buy equipment.

Oxfordshire County Council will decide whether to grant planning permission.

Headteacher Yvonne Kyriacou said: “Everyone is definitely excited.

“We are looking forward to it and hope it all goes through.

“The foundation stage children are not getting the space they should in the current classroom.

“The new building will give them more floor space, more activities and more opportunities.”

She said the new outdoor area would allow foundation stage pupils to play in a separate area from other year groups and grow their own vegetables.

She added: “Most foundation stages at other schools have an outdoor classroom space for themselves.

“At the moment they have to share it here.”

The school decided to demolish the canteen after exploring other ideas, such as extending the current school building.

But the school, which was built in 1856, is a Grade II listed building in the Witney conservation area and has restrictions on what can be done to it. The canteen, which was built in the 1940s, is not listed.

School meals, which are cooked off site and brought in, will move to the school’s hall after the canteen is knocked down.

Mrs Kyriacou said the cost of the project will be known after it has come back from tender and, if permission is granted, work will start almost immediately and could be finished by September.

County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said consultation on the proposal ended on Thursday.

The school will launch a project to raise £50,000 for equipment at an open day on March 25.

Parent governor Kathy Dunn, chairman of the fundraising committee, said: “We have got enough to construct the building, but if no more money is raised we will not be able to open it because it will not be equipped.”

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