A ‘FIRST-CLASS’ primary school at the heart of a new community in southern Oxfordshire finally opened its doors.

GEMS Wantage Primary Academy, which can accommodate up to 420 primary students and has 26 full-time nursery places, welcomed its first students last week.

It is part of the Kingsgrove housing estate which is being built on the eastern fringe of Wantage and will consist of more than 1,500 homes, alongside shops, a pub, a park and communal areas.

The development also includes sports pitches, a playground, a multi-use games area and car parking.

The academy, which serves the new families at the estate, as well as people in Wantage, has welcomed two-four year-olds in the nursery as well as Reception, Year 1 and 2 children.

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GEMS Wantage Primary Academy’s head teacher Leah Perring commented: “I am so pleased to be opening this amazing school to our brand new community of children and parents.

“The learning opportunities we are able to offer on such an incredible site are boundless and our team cannot wait for the experiences that lie ahead.”

To commemorate the opening GEMS welcomed developer St. Modwen, the project team and the landowners to witness the installation of a celebratory plaque and to see the completed school as its students take the first steps in their education.

Set in 2.2 hectares of grounds, the contemporary school building, designed by architectural practice Roberts Limbrick, features glass, timber, red brick and pitched roofs.

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St. Modwen worked closely with Oxfordshire County Council on the design of the school and secured full planning permission in February last year.

William Bayston, senior development manager at St. Modwen, thanked everyone involved in completing the major project.

Explaining what the new school means for the local community Mr Bayston commented: “We are thrilled that we have been able to ensure the opening of the primary school for this new school year as we continue to create the heart of the new community at Kingsgrove.

“We are proud to work in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council and the GEMS Learning Trust to create a first-class academy to offer the children of Kingsgrove and the surrounding areas an excellent facility for generations to come.

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“Achieving such a key milestone on time in such unprecedented circumstances is testament to the excellent project team and also our strong relationship with Oxfordshire County Council and GEMS Learning Trust alike.”

St. Modwen appointed Gloucester-based Barnwood Construction to build the new school.

The major project was completed on schedule despite interruptions due to Covid-19.

The building was then handed over to Oxfordshire County Council for fit-out in August.

To find out more about the academy visit www.gemswantageprimary.org