Pupils and staff have given top marks to their new fit-for-purpose school following a £7.7m investment by St Helens Borough Council.
In January last year, work started at Ashurst Primary School in Blackbrook to replace the 1970’s building with a modern, vibrant learning facility which has increased classroom size – taking overall capacity up to 240 pupils – with support in place for children with special educational needs.
The new school – built on the footprint of the existing playground – also has a number of green credentials to support the council’s net zero ambitions, with air source heat pumps, improved thermal performance, electric vehicle charging points and solar panels all in place to greatly reduce carbon emissions.
An official handover event recently took place where staff and pupils had the opportunity to show off their school to representatives from St Helens Borough Council and the contractor, Kier Construction, following the completion of the project – fully funded by the local authority – and a tree was planted to mark a new era for Ashurst.
St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Nova Charlton, who was among those to receive a tour of the new and improved Ashurst Primary School, said:
“With funding for school improvements limited from central government, this was only possible due to our commitment as a council to prioritise investment in educational settings of greatest need as we look to achieve our key priority of ensuring children and young people have a positive start in life.
“It’s great to be here to see the end result, which is a high-quality school that really has been built for the future, with a number of impressive features to make it a green school in terms of reducing emissions – and of course the perfect learning environment to help pupils thrive on their journey through education.”
Councillor Richard McCauley, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning, has commended the council’s Planning and Property Services alongside Kier Construction.
Councillor McCauley said: “This is testimony to officers across the council’s Planning and Property Services who have worked tirelessly on this project, and I wish to thank Kier Construction for the successful delivery of the new school building on a very constrained site.
“I am also extremely grateful to the headteacher Lisa Houghton, school governors, parents, ward members and importantly the local residents for their help and understanding during the construction works. You have all contributed to a wonderful success.”
Commenting on how much of difference the new facility will make, headteacher Lisa Houghton said: “On behalf of all the governors, staff, children and parents I would like to thank St Helens Borough Council for the investment in our new school. It has been a privilege as headteacher to work alongside Kier and the council in making this happen, which has resulted in our modern new school providing the resources and space, to enable all our wonderful children to thrive and achieve ‘Excellence Everyday’.
“The children are absolutely delighted with their new school, stating, ‘It is like a five-star hotel.’ They love their new learning environments, and we are proud of how well they have settled following the move. Similarly, our parents have provided positive feedback after visiting the school for an open evening and are impressed with the design and ethos of the school, which has our Ashurst values shining through.
“The new school is a massive benefit to the Ashurst Family and the community offering a quality education in a state-of-the-art school, creating a new legacy as move forward on our journey.”
As part of the project, contractor Kier Construction committed to recruiting at least 20 per cent of labour from within the borough.
With the new school now completed, work will get underway over the summer to carefully take down the old school building to create the replacement play areas, as well as enhanced car parking provision.