Pupils at Shipley Primary School started a whole new chapter on Friday October 17 – with the official opening of their new library and teaching space.
Appropriately the official guests invited to cut the ceremonial ribbon included current trustees of the charity which founded the boys’ school in 1827.
The children handed out ‘thank you’ medals to those who had supported the project either through donations or by offering their skills and time before giving them a guided tour of the new facilities and a celebratory tea party.
The boys’ school and girls’ school had been founded with money left for the education of children of the parish by Sarah Andrew who died, age 95, in 1825. The existing school was built in 1876 by which time boys and girls were taught in the same building in single sex classes. Over recent years growing student numbers and a changing curriculum have left the Victorian buildings feeling a rather tight-fit for the school, and – following the suggestion by former headteacher, Mrs Caitriona Bull - it was agreed to launch an appeal to provide an additional teaching space and new library area.
A mobile double-classroom unit at Thomas a Beckett School was due to be removed as part of their new build project. Soon it was earmarked for delivery to Shipley instead - but even with a building identified, the school faced a project target of thousands of pounds just for relocation, rebuilding, servicing and redecorating.
The whole community rose to the challenge. Local residents, parents past and present, friends and colleagues all dug deep in their pockets or picked up paint brushes, saws and hammers to turn the shell back into a useful building.
Fundraising events were organised, contacts in the trade were encouraged to get involved, and the Sarah Andrew Trust and Andrew Hall Charity were among those who put their financial weight firmly behind the plans.
Gradually from the muddy building site the new rooms took shape, and with donations of library furniture and new tables and chairs from the county council’s Kick Start Project the new ‘Ash’ classroom and Sarah Andrew Library emerged.
Current Headteacher, Miss Alison Retallick, said moving the library to the new location had made it a much larger space but more cosy and welcoming for the children. “Our children love to read and the new library is an ideal space to curl up and share a book whilst the teaching space is bright, airy and welcoming. It is a fantastic addition to our wonderful school.”
It has also freed up vital extra space for events, PE and dining in the school hall. “It is lovely to be invited back,” said Andy Lynch of John Jenkins Flooring who helped with the refurbishment. “We usually just get asked to do the work and never see the site again. When I last saw it there were gaps in the floors. This looks great - the difference is fantastic.”
Report and pictures contributed by Shipley Primary School.