Pupils enjoy first day at new £5.2million Sunderland school
A headteacher was moved to tears as children enjoyed their first day in a brand new school after moving from their dilapidated old site.
Willow Wood Primary School was officially opened, replacing the Willow Fields Community Primary School in Witherwack.
Emotional headteacher Lindsay Robertson said: “Seeing the children arrive this morning just means so much. I’ve been in tears three or four times today already. I feel totally overwhelmed.
"Our old school had problems with the roof and two days before we were due to leave, one of our walls collapsed. I used to have to wade through puddles to get to my office and we had mushrooms growing on our walls.
"This new site is incomparable. It’s quiet and beautiful – a little utopia.”
The new £5.2m development was funded by Sunderland City Council and includes state of the art classrooms with interactive whiteboards, wifi and washing facilities as well as a sensory room and library.
To harness opportunities for outdoor learning the school has also been designed to incorporate a Forest School, ponds with decking, wildflower meadow and outdoor learning area.
A dance studio has been created which can also be use by the local community.
Lindsay added: “This is a different world to the old school. This new school building means the children are now in a fresh, modern, clean environment and that will make an incredible difference to our pupils, our staff and to our community.”
It’s a sentiment shared by the children, the majority of whom had experienced life at the old site.
Year 6 pupil Eva Clark, 10, said: “This is really different – our old school was falling down. I was so excited this morning that I got in early. I’m really looking forward to learning in the Forest School and at the pond.”
Classmate Mason Newton, 10, said: “The new school is really good. The old one was falling to pieces. It’s much bigger and has a big field which I’m looking forward to playing on.”
Year 5 pupil Molly Akano added: “I’m really impressed with the new school and cant’s wait for my class tour. I was really excited this morning.”
Willow Fields, the school’s old site is set to be reinvented with new-build homes set to be constructed as part of the council’s £59m Housing Development and Investment Plan to create affordable homes for rent.
Cllr Louise Farthing, cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “I’m very impressed with the new building. Willow Wood Primary School is an incredible new facility that the whole community will be able to benefit from, with amenities for parents as well as children.
"Our schools programme shows the absolute commitment we have to our future generations, and seeing the impact this has directly on young people from Sunderland is just wonderful.”
Built to accommodate 245 children, the school was constructed by Durham based company, Esh Construction, using suppliers and electricians from Sunderland.
Construction Director, Brian Joyce, said: “"I’m very proud of the team and we are delighted to hand over this fantastic new school which will provide a much-improved learning and teaching environment for the local community.”
The new school is part of the Council’s £35m programme that will see six schools across the city rebuilt or refurbished.