Pupils, parents, teachers and construction company Beard, celebrated the official opening and blessing this week (22 September) of the 210-place Ridgeway Farm Church of England Academy near Purton, by the Bishop of Bristol, the Right Reverend Mike Hill.
The opening of the new primary school was marked by the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and burial of a time capsule organised by Swindon-based Beard, which has built the £3.2 million scheme.
Ridgeway Farm CE Academy is situated in the centre of Taylor Wimpey’s new 700-home Ridgeway Farm housing development on the edge of Purton village. It is the latest academy to be opened by the Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust which currently owns and runs nine primary school academies across Swindon, Bristol and North Wiltshire.
“The Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust are delighted to be opening Ridgeway Farm CE Academy. Staff from both the new school and the partner CE primary academy in Lydiard Millicent have shown an exceptional commitment to organising the school ready for the children,” says Liz Townend, deputy director of Education and of the Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust’s deputy CEO.
“The light and spacious building with state of the art technology has enabled attractive learning spaces and a beautiful library area to be created. DBAT thank all those involved in the construction for on time delivery of the building. Within its first month the school is already a thriving learning community and we look forward to its future growth.”
Ridgeway Farm Academy pupils and staff have filled the time capsule with memorabilia they hope will give children of the future a snapshot of school life in 2016. The contents included class photos, hand and footprints of the reception children, and written and electronic accounts of life as a child in Ridgeway. Pre-construction photos of the site as a farm and the completed school building have also been placed in the capsule.
“Time capsules are a great way of recording historical items that have special meanings to the sites where they are hidden, and a wonderful way to put history into context by linking current and future generations. We hope that pupils and their teachers have had fun putting it together,” says Marc Bayley, Beard Swindon director.
“We have really enjoyed working with the Trust and Taylor Wimpey on this much-needed new primary school for the Purton community and we wish Ridgeway Farm Academy a very happy and successful future.”
The one-form entry primary school, which takes children from reception up to year six, has been built by Beard to accommodate the influx of new families moving into the new development and to help address the shortage of primary school places in the wider Swindon area. The school currently offers places for 30 children in Early Years Foundation Stage (reception) and 15 children in each year group from Year 1 to Year 6, with plans to increase this to 30 children by 2018.
Ridgeway Farm CE Academy provides seven state-of-the-art classrooms, a library and ICT area, bicycle stands, games court, playing field and separate reception and infant play areas. The building has also been designed to generate some of its own electricity from solar roof panels.
Carly Luce, Ridgeway Farm CE Academy’s principal, says: “The Opening Ceremony marks the end of one part of a wonderful adventure and the start of the next! Everyone who is part of the Ridgeway Farm CE Academy family is very thankful for their brand new school. It is a wonderful place to learn and grow.”