Headteacher, John Bayes, was joined by the local bishop, Right Reverend Mike Harrison, to celebrate the official opening of Thurston CEVC (Church of England Voluntary Controlled) Primary Academy and Thurston Pre-School. School Governors, members of Thedwastre Education Trust, Suffolk County Council and the construction and design teams gathered on site to mark the occasion which included a collective worship involving all of the pupils.
Back in 2020, the construction of the new school began, making it possible to relocate the existing school to a larger site, increasing the number of permanent placements from 210 pupils to 420 pupils. Included in the project was a new standalone 30 place Pre School, operated by Thurston Pre School in addition to their existing facility in the village.
John Bayes, Head teacher at Thurston CEVC Primary Academy, said “We are delighted with our brand-new school. It has been extremely exciting to work closely with the School’s Infrastructure team at Suffolk County Council and Concertus Design and Property Consultants, who have all been fantastic at guiding us step by step on the Thurston CEVC Primary Academy relocation and expansion. We have had a huge amount of support from staff, parents, pupils and governors and are looking forward to our future in our new school”.
This expansion was driven by the anticipated housing developments in the area and will guarantee the continuity of school provision within the village. The new school is located on Norton Road, adjacent to the Linden Homes development and opposite the Hopkins housing development.
Concertus Design and Property Consultants Ltd, delivered the new educational facilities on behalf of the client, Suffolk County Council.
Ian Barber, Senior Project Manager at Concertus, said “The new Thurston Primary School provides a modern learning environment for local children and the larger school site has helped deal with the expansion in the area. The school was designed with the forest school identity at heart, and we are pleased to see the children have settled in so well.”
The old 210 place Primary school was on a constrained site which meant that it was not suitable for expansion. This resulted in a strategic decision by Suffolk County Council, with the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and Thedwastre Education Trust to relocate and expand the existing school to provide the necessary additional school places. The new two-storey building has spacious classrooms with interactive whiteboards, a dance studio and specialist rooms for art-design technology and science as well as a library and large hall. The relocation means that there will be space to expand the school if it needs to grow again.
Rachel Hood, Cabinet Member for Education, SEND and Skills at Suffolk County Council, said: “It’s a wonderful occasion to mark the opening of a new school in Suffolk. The school has been designed to offer the very best lay-out and space, with significant innovative and modern features in the classrooms. I am sure the children are enjoying every moment of it.”
Barnes Construction was appointed by Concertus as the main contractor on this project and played a key part in ensuring the project was handed over on time, despite additional challenges presented by COVID-19.
Mark Whinney, Senior Contracts Manager at Barnes Construction, said “We are thrilled to have worked with Suffolk County Council and Concertus on another new school that helps to meet the needs of the local communities in mid-Suffolk.”
The school opened in September 2021 in time for the new academic year and has since welcomed many local children. The pupils are now enjoying their modern, innovative, and exciting new learning environment, which is set to provide educational benefits to the community for years to come.