30 June 2021

Willowdown Primary School branches out

A new £2.5m extension to a primary school near Bridgwater that expands its capacity by more than 200 pupil places was officially opened last week.

Willowdown Primary School was originally opened on the Kings Down development seven years ago with space for 210 children and has seen demand for places grow. Expansion was built into the school’s plans from the start and the extension and remodelling fit seamlessly with the original building, its open spaces and play areas, providing six new classrooms, plus an additional reception and nursery room, allowing the nursery to offer a further 26 places.

Ro O’Reilly, Headteacher at Willowdown Primary School, said: “We are delighted to have our wonderful new extension open and operational. Contractors worked tirelessly to complete the new build on-time. This extension will allow the school to grow as the community expands over time. It has been fantastic to have so much space this year and has certainly helped with social distancing during a pandemic!

“We look forward to being able to invite our families in to see the new build when coronavirus restrictions allow – it is such a beautiful building; the children and staff are lucky to call Willowdown our school. Many thanks to Somerset County Council for funding and supporting the build.”

CEO of the Clevedon Learning Trust, John Wells, said: “The official opening of this extension marks an important milestone for the school.  The extension is an asset for the local community that allows for more children to benefit from the excellent education and opportunities that Willowdown provides.  My thanks to Somerset County Council, the contractors and everyone else involved in completing the build.”

The £2.5m project has been funded through Somerset County Council capital investment approved by Full Council. This funding was made available to enable the expansion with re-imbursement expected from the future section 106 agreement developer contribution from the North East Bridgwater site.

Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Public Health, said: “The new extension adds to the existing light, modern and airy space that benefits everyone involved with the school – staff, pupils and their families. The original construction was planned with expansion in mind and so the extension fits in perfectly.

“I hope that the children are enjoying the great learning environment provided at Willowdown and that the school continues to flourish for years to come.”

Work began on the extension in December 2019 and, despite the huge logistical challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, was completed on time – and in time for the start of 2020/21 academic year as planned.

Contractors Mi-space, part of the Midas Group, made sure the construction work was Covid-compliant, proving as safe an environment as possible for those involved in the project.

Chris Trafford, Operational Manager for Midas Group, said: “Having been responsible for the original construction of Willowdown Primary School, we were incredibly pleased to see the school serving its community and thriving to the point where more space was needed. We have really enjoyed continuing our positive relationship with the school and the local community. The success of the build, during what has been an extraordinary 18 months, is a tribute to the efforts of our own site team and the way all involved in the project have worked so well together to deliver this fantastic new facility.”

The extension was officially opened by the Mayor of Bridgwater, Councillor Leigh Redman, on Friday 25 June, with the Head Boy and Head Girl together cutting the ribbon in the school’s colour of burgundy red.

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