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New nature area at Cliff Park

PUBLISHED: 16:35 06 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:33 03 July 2010

PUPILS are looking forward to have a blooming good time in their new nature space and learning zone at Cliff Park Infant School.

The new corridor and courtyard were opened by Shelagh Hutson, county council cabinet member for children's services, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday.

PUPILS are looking forward to have a blooming good time in their new nature space and learning zone at Cliff Park Infant School.

The new corridor and courtyard were opened by Shelagh Hutson, county council cabinet member for children's services, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday.

They form part of a three-stage plan for developing the school to make it fully accessible for disabled people and help the movement of pupils around the building.

Among the features of the garden are an amphitheatre for storytelling, a bug garden and an apple tree, while the newly-built corridor offers a space for learning with new tables and chairs.

Headteacher Jan Rigby said: “This project has exceeded all expectations and I'm delighted with it. We wanted to improve access and movement around the school, and the new area really does that.

“We've even had blue tits nesting in the outside area so we are trying to make it as attractive to wildlife as possible.

“The idea was also that the children would be able to move around the courtyard and discover different aspects to it, and with the corridor we have also effectively created another classroom for the pupils.”

Groundswoman Grainne Donovan helped design and build the outdoor space. She said: “We wanted to make the area interesting for the children and their senses so we've included lots of sizes and shapes and movement.

“There's a water feature and I included the pupils in the planting of things. It was important to make the space as child friendly as possible so they have somewhere beautiful to learn in.”

The corridor, courtyard and an additional canopy in the playground cost £93,000, with work on the site starting in the May bank holiday and being completed in September.

After saving for more than two years, the school received a funding boost of £32,000 from the premises officer for Norfolk County Council, John Atkins, under the Discrimination Disability Act.

Martin Steele, 49, has been site manager for 20 years at the school and he said: “Until work began, there were a few shrubs in the middle and to get from one side of the school to the other the kids had cross it and go outside.

“Now they can use the corridor, and disabled access has been greatly improved within the school - the colour scheme within the corridor has even been chosen to help the visually impaired. There's a right buzz in seeing this part of the project finished and in seeing the children use the facilities.”

The work follows a two-and-half year gap after the first stage of the project, in which new wheelchair-friendly ramps were installed to the entrance after three months of work.

The third and final phase is due to start within the next three years. It will involve the installation of outside toilets and the erection of more canopies.

Attending the opening was chairman of the governors Philip Gunn. Making a speech at the opening ceremony praising the work that had been done he said: “The governors and staff believe these young people will learn to love learning and love coming to school here, and that attitude will stay with them throughout their formal education, however long that may be, and have a major influence on their wellbeing throughout their lives.

“This lovely extension to our school is a part of achieving that aim.”

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