Sunny outlook for Hartlepool’s first solar-powered school

West Park Primary School has become the first solar school in the town.
West Park Primary School has become the first solar school in the town.

The sun’s solar rays are helping to power a Hartlepool primary school and save it lots of money after winning a national competition.

Supporters got together to celebrate West Park Primary School, in Coniscliffe Road, becoming the town’s first official solar school.

West Park Primary School has become the first solar school in the town. Headteacher Mandy Hall receives plaques from M&S Jindi Pank and Hartlepower CIC Paul Hewitson

West Park Primary School has become the first solar school in the town. Headteacher Mandy Hall receives plaques from M&S Jindi Pank and Hartlepower CIC Paul Hewitson

It has had 100 panels worth £40,000 installed on the roof after the school won the most public backing in the competition run by M&S Energy.

Some days the school is being powered entirely by solar power saving the school money which is being spent on other resources for pupils.

Headteacher Mandy Hall said: “The solar panels will allow the school to save a significant amount of money which can now be spent directly on resources for the children.

“We have already made plans to enhance the outdoor areas in school, every child will benefit from this fabulous initiative.”

West Park’s entry in the competition was led by Hartlepower, a renewable energy community interest company.

Hartlepower director Paul Hewitson is a parent governor at the school.

He said: “The panels were installed in mid winter in December and are now really starting to work.

“I believe some days the school is running completely independently on the electricity just from the solar panels, which is brilliant and a big cost saving.

“The school is now starting to see the benefits as we planned which is great.”

West Park came top of an online public vote to win the solar panels last year, beating big cities like Manchester, after a big push from parents on social media.

It got 1,523 votes, making it the clear winner over second place, which got 948.

The M&S Community Energy Fund was open to any not-for-profit organisation that wanted to use renewable energy to provide community benefits.

Organisers said they were impressed with the level of community engagement shown.

The panels are set to generate electricity for at least the next 25 years providing free power for eight months of the year.

At the celebration event Mrs Hall received plaques from M&S’s Jindi Pank and Hartlepower’s Paul Hewitson commemorating their success.

Paul said he has been approached by other schools and community buildings in town on the back of West Park’s win interested in using more renewable energy.