School opens with 'treasure' hunt
LESSONS have started for the pupils of Cranbrook's primary school which opened last week with a treasure hunt with a twist.
St Martin's Church of England Primary School is part of phase one of the new East Devon town which is under development.
Through the treasure hunt the youngsters were able to get to know their new building.
Treasure constituted people from the surrounding community including members of Exeter Chiefs who coached rugby on the playground and Matthew Mason, the head chef from the Jack in the Green restaurant who hosted cookery lessons. The children also had a go at campfire cooking with Escot Park's Alan Bruford, gymnastics with Summer Manley and heard stories read by librarian Nicola Cowling.
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The £3.6m school replaces the now closed Clyst Honiton Primary School.
St Martin's will grow with the new community and will eventually accommodate 420 children and have a 26-place nursery. Every classroom is equipped with the latest Apple technology and opens up to its own outside space.
There is a purpose-built Foundation Stage, an airy and spacious hall, a library at the heart of the school and a dedicated kitchen which will supply meals to other schools and contract outside catering.
Outside there is a large woodland, a pond with a pontoon, a large playground and extensive playing fields.
Headteacher Tania Beard said: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to start a school from scratch. St Martin's is going to be the hub of this community and we will grow with the community.
"We have incredible facilities throughout. As a Forest School, the school grounds include woodland and a pond with a pontoon which will use for pond-dipping."
The children will also have the opportunity to grow fruit and vegetables and the chef will include their produce in school lunches and other meals. The school also contains a Wellbeing Centre.
"We know that good emotional health is absolutely essential for effective learning," continued Mrs Beard. "This space will ensure that all our children, staff and parents have access to the best possible information and support so everyone can learn successfully.
"We will be working with education, health and social services through the centre to help promote health and wellbeing across the community.
"We intend to be at the heart of the Cranbrook community and a key hub as it grows."
Devon County Council leader John Hart added: "Too often, developers are allowed to build extensive housing estates without providing proper community facilities.
"Here the county council has worked closely with East Devon District Council, the diocese and the developers to ensure that families moving into Cranbrook have some of the community resources they will need right from the start."
Making sure the school was established early in the development was an important element in the vision of East Devon District Council to ensure a sense of belonging for the first residents. Authority leader Councillor Paul Diviani said: "Led by Tania Beard, these young people will bring a tremendous energy and enthusiasm to the new community and this is so important in the formative years of Cranbrook."
Exeter Diocese director of Education, Philip Mantell, said: "It will be a wonderful resource for the community."