Orwell Multi-Academy Trust are celebrating the official opening of Grace Cook Primary and Nursery in Stowmarket. In April 2021, Suffolk County Council received planning permission to build the new school, which is located within Northfield View housing development, previously known as Chilton Leys. The official opening of the school took place with representatives from the project team, MP for the Bury St Edmunds constituency Jo Churchill, Town Mayor and Consort Cllrs Barry & Heather Salmon and members of the Astronomical Society. The afternoon featured an assembly with the new pupils and a performance from Stowmarket High School choir.
Richard Dedicoat, Headteacher at the school, said “It has been an exciting journey working alongside R G Carter, Concertus and Suffolk County Council to finally open Grace Cook Primary School and Nursery. We aim to capture the interest and imagination of our pupils and inspire them to aim high, keep trying and never give up. Dream it, believe it, achieve it!”
Following community consultation, Orwell Multi-Academy Trust (OMAT), which has several other academies throughout Suffolk, named the new school after Alice Grace Cook, (1877-1958) known as Grace Cook, a British Astronomer. The new two-storey 210-place primary school building comprises of eight classrooms, a large hall and kitchen. The new single-storey 60-place nursery consists of two main playrooms and a kitchen. Included within the design is a new football pitch, ball court and generous outdoor play areas. To encourage children to cycle to school, there are also sufficient covered bike shelters on the site.
Anna Hennell James, CEO of OMAT said “It has been a real team effort to get from drawings on paper to a finished school building, and we are delighted to have so many of the people involved in that journey at the official opening with us. We have been overwhelmed by the commitment from everyone here, and everything they have done to ensure the success of the project. We are incredibly proud of what has been achieved and look forward to growing a school that the whole community can be proud of”.
Rachel Hood, Cabinet Member for Education, SEND and Skills, said “After many months of construction, it is wonderful that the school and nursery is finally open, and children and staff can enjoy all it has to offer. The commitment from all those working on the project, including Suffolk County Council, Concertus, OMAT and R G Carter, as well as the new Head teacher, Mr Richard Dedicoat, has produced a very impressive facility and I am sure pupils will be inspired to achieve their potential now and for future generations.”
The new school, construction of which was funded through Suffolk County Council’s capital programme and designed by Concertus Design and Property Consultants, provides a focal point for the local neighbourhood.
Rob McQueen, Senior Architectural Designer at Concertus, said “The school has been designed to fit in with the surrounding residential area, with the external appearance intended to offer visual interest and identity for each area of the school. Today marks the start of a new generation of children embarking on their education and I am honoured to have been part of delivering this new school”.
The main contractor, R G Carter, started work on the new school in May 2021. Jake Betts, Contract Manager at R G Carter, said “We’re extremely proud at R G Carter to have played a part in this exciting development, working alongside the teams at Suffolk County Council and Concertus on another much-needed educational facility for the county. We would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work in delivering this creative learning environment and look forward to seeing the positive and lasting impact it will have on children, teachers, parents, and the local community for many years to come.”
Grace Cook Primary and Nursery has been designed to accommodate future expansion, help guarantee continuity of provision and meet future population growth in the area.