State-of-the-art Tonbridge primary school stuns children

READ ALL ABOUT IT: Tenax Trust Chief Executive Ian Bauckham and Headteacher Donna Weeks with pupils in the new library

State-of-the-art Tonbridge primary school stuns children

by Andy Tong | 2nd May 2019

A PRIMARY school in Tonbridge officially opened its doors last week, 18 months after pupils first arrived.

It unveiled a dazzling array of buildings and facilities that were well worth the wait for pupils, parents and teachers.

Bishop Chavasse Church of England Primary School on Baker Lane has been housed in temporary accommodation since September 2017.

The free school has been set up by the Tenax Schools Trust, which was established in 2011 and also runs six other existing primaries in the local area.

Headteacher Donna Weeks has been involved in the planning since its inception four years ago and told the Times: “It is a rare opportunity as a headteacher to be able to be part of the process to shape the design of a brand new school.

“It has been an opportunity I have relished. It has enabled me to ensure that our children and the community have bright and spacious purpose-built school with stunning outdoor spaces.”

The remarkable results have been achieved in partnership with Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets based in Holland.

'Watching the children in awe of their new environment for the first day of term last Thursday was a delight'

Inside the architecturally imposing façade, the showpiece elements include the library and bespoke classrooms.

“I knew how I wanted the school to look and the outstanding provision I aimed to create, with specialist classrooms for food technology, nurture, themed group spaces, an inspiring library and spacious classrooms for every year group,” said Mrs Weeks.

“But I never imagined the finished school would be as impressive as it is. What has been created is a calm and spacious environment which provides great opportunities for learning both inside and outside the classrooms.

She added: “Watching the children in awe of their new environment for the first day of term last Thursday was a delight – and confirmation that we have created a learning environment our children and families can be proud of.”

Mrs Weeks has been delighted by the support of their parents and local community who believed in her vision for first Church of England school in Tonbridge.

“Our families are so complementary of all that we are creating and this makes everything that we do as a Trust and a school worth it.”

Parent Hughie Stein said: “The new school facilities are fantastic and I know that this will enhance the already outstanding educational experience that our daughter Morgan already had at Bishop Chavasse.

'I love the new library, it’s awesome! It has lots of hiding spaces to sit and read a book. It is really, really colourful'

“Mrs Weeks and her team have never wavered in their commitment to making sure that the new building is the very best because that’s what the children deserve.

Kara, who is in Year One, is delighted that the school has so much outdoor space. “I have lots of new places to play with my friends and we now have a great big playground,” she said.

Sebastian, in the same year, said: “I love the new library, it’s awesome! It has lots of hiding spaces to sit and read a book. It is really, really colourful, I love it.”

“Having an inviting library for our children was definitely top of my design list,” explained Mrs Weeks. “I am passionate that as educationalists we have to ensure that we raise literate children who enjoy reading for pleasure.”

The school caters for Reception and Year One, and will have its third intake in September.

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