All smiles as Lowestoft school marks new chapter

COLOURFUL art creations, music and song and a welcome Haka dance...

There were smiles all round at a Lowestoft primary school as more than 180 guests joined its staff and pupils to mark a new chapter in its history – and look forward to a promising future.

Since last summer, work has been under way at Elm Tree Primary School as it moved from two sites to one at the former middle school campus in Ranworth Avenue.

But last Friday, new classrooms and facilities were put on show to parents, governors and civic dignitaries as the school celebrated the end of the project.

Head teacher Hilary Day was delighted with the new buildings.

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'It was a real celebration,' she said. 'We needed to mark the occasion after all coming together on the one site, and so we had more than 180 guests including Lowestoft mayor Tod Sullivan, local councillors and Graham Newman, from Suffolk County Council. We now have facilities we could only have dreamed of.'

The event last week follows the closure of all middle schools in the Lowestoft area last year under Suffolk County Council's Schools Organisation Review (SOR). Elm Tree Middle – which had been open since 1972 – closed in July after the town moved from a three-tier to a two-tier system of education.

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Last September, Elm Tree Primary School took over the neighbouring middle school site and work began on the new facilities to enable it to cater for its expanded roll of pupils aged four to 11.

They include a gym and changing rooms, a home economics room – which caters for a breakfast club – a dedicated art room that is big enough to have two classes at once, two ICT facilities, a music room, two 'discovery rooms' as well as all the combined outside space from the two school sites.

At present, the school caters for 300 pupils, but potentially it could take up tor 420 children.

'At the end of the day the opportunities for the children and what we can now offer them is greatly improved. The potential we now have is huge – we have so much to offer and that is fantastic,' Ms Day said.

She said the size of the new site was a major advantage.

'Some of the things we've been doing – some quite big art projects – could not be seen at the primary school, but we've brought them with us. With the scale of the new building we can show it off, knowing and remembering this had been done at the former site,' she said. 'It is about making the students feel that the school has continued and we've been working on making sure we had designs, creations and artwork to provide that continuity.

'We are not a new school; we're the same school in a different building.'

After two phases of work to transform the school, guests at last Friday's event were treated to a tour of the new building by year six prefects and were given an insight to what Ms Day described as 'a day in the life' of Elm Tree Primary.

'We had a Haka welcome from youngsters in year five, violinists playing and brass instruments entertaining,' she said.

'The reception children acted out a story centring around a bear hunt, a collection of year three and year four pupils sung and signed songs for us while year six pupils held the stage with different presentations using ICT.'

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