Pupils will step into history after Easter as the new King Ina Church of England Academy open its doors for the first time.
Somerset County Council has invested £7.3m to develop the new primary school which can accommodate up to 420 pupils and 52 early years children, with 14 classrooms, a pre-school, a school hall, a production kitchen, sports pitches and a multi-use games area.
The facilities were designed and built by BAM Construction who used innovative design and construction techniques to ensure the school has strong environmental credentials.
The Wessex Archaeology team carried out excavation and discovered ancient burial sites that have shed significant light on life and death in Roman Somerset, as well as evidence of roundhouse buildings and other artefacts including pottery.
Once the archaeological work was complete, construction of the new school went ahead, and pupils are due to start attending after the Easter holidays.
To mark the historic significance of the site, a circular stone bench area which can be used during breaks and for external lessons has been built using stone reclaimed from the site, and will be located in the area of one of the roundhouses.
The new facilities will have a positive impact on the day-to-day running of the school with staff and children no longer having to travel between two sites. King Ina currently operates across two locations at opposite ends of the town, with pupils and staff having to travel between Etsome Terrace and Kirkham Street on a daily basis.
Councillor Faye Purbrick, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Transformation, said:
“It is fantastic to see the Council delivering yet another excellent educational facility in Somerset that will be an asset to the community.
“I am pleased that not only have we been able to deliver an environmentally-friendly school, we have also managed to reflect the site’s rich history with the unique roundhouse feature to support the children’s learning.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved in the project who delivered this new school, including the archaeological team, and also the staff, parents and students at King Ina for their understanding during the construction process. I look forward to seeing the pupils thrive in their new school environment.”
Suzie Svenson, Headteacher of King Ina Church of England Academy, said:
"We are all very much looking forward to the long-awaited move into our new school. Joining our pre-school, Infant and Junior schools together will create wonderful opportunities for partnership learning for the children and we are excited about the educational benefits of this merger.
“I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone involved in supporting and the planning and building of our fantastic new school, including Somerset County Council, The Diocese of Bath & Wells, BAM Construction Ltd and Somerton Town Council. The children are bursting with excitement and we look forward to welcoming them to their new school after Easter.”
BAM Construction’s Jason Cisneros, who was project manager for the construction of the new school, said:
“The new school will provide an excellent learning facility for the children of Somerton. Its sustainable design captures the use of natural light and natural ventilation, supported by the use of efficient services throughout, PV on the roof and a highly insulated building fabric. 100% of electricity we used was on a renewable tariff, minimising the building’s embodied carbon.
“This is the first delivery of our standard two FE model school design for Somerset County Council. It’s a very proud moment for us to see it competed and ready for use.”
Kathryn Brook, Site Director for Wessex Archaeology added:
“The archaeological excavation was very exciting for all the archaeologists involved. The ongoing analysis of all the finds and evidence will give us a unique insight into the lives of some of Somerton’s earliest residents and help us to tell their story.”