Work to build new school in Rooksdown to begin this summer

Castle Hill Junior School headteacher John Martin and deputy head Rebecca Willmouth with pupils at the site where the new Rooksdown Primary School will be built

Castle Hill Junior School headteacher John Martin and deputy head Rebecca Willmouth with pupils at the site where the new Rooksdown Primary School will be built Buy this photo

First published in News Basingstoke Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

IT’S been long-awaited – but now work to build a new primary school in a Basingstoke suburb is set to start this summer.

The county council has earmarked £6.9million for a new primary school to be built in Rooksdown, and it has now been announced that it will be run by John Martin, headteacher of top-performing Castle Hill Junior School, in Winklebury.

The head and governors at Castle Hill, which was graded as “outstanding” by education watchdog Ofsted in January 2011, were chosen to manage the new school following a public consultation launched by Hampshire County Council last year, in which residents were given three shortlisted options.

The other two were that the school should be stand-alone or managed by the headteacher and governors of Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College, in Wessex Close, Basingstoke.

Work on the new school is expected to be complete by July 2015 and it will create a one-form entry school, which could expand to two-form entry.

Mr Martin, who will continue to lead Castle Hill and will split his time between the two schools, said: “It’s a very exciting chapter for the Rooksdown community.

“We already have a large number of children at Castle Hill, who are from Rooksdown.”

He added: “Rooksdown has a very strong community with a community centre and more houses going up, so it seemed the next logical step to seek to run the new school.”

A public meeting about the new school was held at Rooksdown Community Centre on Monday.

Mr Martin said: “The parents were very positive, so we are hoping it will be of benefit to everyone.”

He added: “For many years, we have worked with Rooksdown parents and when we realised there was an opportunity to develop that partnership of schools, it was an opportunity not to be missed.”

The school will open with just one class of 30 reception children.

Mr Martin said: “We will grow slowly. The goal will be to provide world-class education.”

The county council is now working with architects to design the building, and will consult on the plans.

The Rooksdown project is part of Hampshire County Council’s plan to create hundreds of extra school places in the borough up until 2017.

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