First look inside new school

Jesmond Gardens Primary School pupils (left to right) Caitlin Slater, Rose Harrison, Rhian Davis and Rebecca Sleeman working in one of the open teaching areas in the school. PIcture by FRANK REID

Jesmond Gardens Primary School pupils (left to right) Caitlin Slater, Rose Harrison, Rhian Davis and Rebecca Sleeman working in one of the open teaching areas in the school. PIcture by FRANK REID

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THIS is the first look inside a new multi-million pound primary school which aims to transform the way youngsters are taught – in their stocking feet!

Jesmond Gardens Primary School, in Hartlepool, opened its doors this week to the delight of staff, pupils and parents.

Jane Loomes, headteacher at the £7m school, in Jesmond Gardens, said the state-of-the-art building is “comfortable, warm and welcoming” which moves away from traditional teaching methods.

There are no traditional rows of desks and each teaching area is curved, with acoustic curtains to block out sound and flexible tables and chairs.

Another unusual feature is that the children are asked to take off their shoes in the teaching zones which are packed with soft seating areas.

Youngsters can wear slippers or plimsolls, but staff say the vast majority enjoy wearing just their socks.

Mrs Loomes said: “We have created a home here.

“It is comfortable, warm and welcoming and everything that is considered to be institutionalised we have done the opposite.

“We have only been in a couple of days, but the reaction from the pupils has been amazing.

“Everybody that comes is impressed and we are very proud of what we have achieved.

“It is about teaching children with respect and to give them more independence; a key feature of the building is its flexibility.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to give our children the very best and that is what they deserve.”

The building includes a “heart” of the school – which is a central area which can be used for a wide range of activities including teaching, music and drama performances.

Meanwhile, the new acoustic school hall - which can also be split into different areas – includes a bistro-style cafe and cinema projection system.

Although not quite ready yet, the school will also have Wifi while the youngsters can already work on the most up-to-date laptops, iPads and iPods.

The new single-storey building has replaced the former Jesmond Road Primary School, in nearby Percy Street, which closed in July.

Surgo Construction has built the school, which was designed by ADP architects and can accommodate a maximum of 315 pupils.

Mrs Loomes added: “Everything inside is based on hours of research and I would like to thank my deputy Paul Martindale for his hard work and Ricky Brown, at the Space to Learn centre, for his input.

“Also the staff, Hartlepool Borough Council for giving us the opportunity, children services for their support, site manager Derek Hoggarth, ADP and Surgo Construction.”

The new school has been funded by the Government’s Primary Capital Programme (PCP).