Work has concluded on a multi-phase project to provide space for 90 more pupils at Bleak Hill Primary School in Windle, St Helens. The £2.5 million project began in October 2019 and took place over two phases, with contractor Seddon working throughout the various coronavirus lockdown measures to deliver the works on time.
Work was completed earlier this year but due to Covid restrictions, the decision was made to delay the official opening event until the new academic year, once the pupils were back after the summer holidays. The brand-new extension to the main building adds four additional classrooms to the school, alongside 15 car park drop-off spaces for parents. The new classrooms allow the school to accommodate 90 pupils in total, helping to meet local demand for primary school places.
Prior to this, phase one saw the construction of an extension to the school hall to address capacity issues, particularly at lunchtimes. Finished in 2020, the new, larger hall can now be converted into an extra multi-function classroom. The space will also be used for before and after-school activities, including a breakfast club for pupils. All enabling works for the project were completed during school holidays, to ensure there was no disruption for children and staff.
Bleak Hill pupils complete a one-mile walk each day around the school grounds, so Seddon temporarily extended the playground to avoid interrupting this daily activity. The company also delivered external works, including a new bin storage area and painting new lines on the two football pitches, one of which was outside the scope of work as a goodwill gesture to the school.
David Baines, Leader of St Helens Council, said: “Ian Wellens [former head teacher] has served Bleak Hill Primary School and the wider community with distinction and dedication for many years, and he leaves a lasting legacy. His legacy isn’t just the fantastic new classroom block, but it’s the brilliant staff, the school culture, and most important of all its hundreds of young people who have enjoyed a superb education here thanks to him and the whole school family.
“Everyone with a connection to the school will miss Mr Wellens very much, but thanks to the foundations he’s laid and the example he’s set, we know the school will continue to go from strength to strength under Mrs Lawrenson and the fantastic staff team.”
Councillor Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Business added: “These new classrooms will allow more children to access a quality education at Bleak Hill – one of the top performing schools in the borough. As a council, one of our key priorities is to ensure children and young people have the best possible starts in life, and projects like this – as well as similar improvement works set for Penkford and Ashurst Primary School – are clear proof of our commitment.”
John Shannon, divisional director at Seddon, said: Overall, the two extensions allow Bleak Hill Primary School to provide more children from the local area with access to high-quality teaching and learning environments where they can reach the best of their abilities.
“It’s been a pleasure to deliver this vital project for the school, especially over the past year, which has been incredibly difficult for everyone. The new facilities will go a long way in helping the community’s young people to thrive for years to come.”
Seddon was awarded the two-stage project through the LHC Schools and Community Buildings Framework.
Before the first coronavirus lockdown hit in March 2020, Seddon bought all roof tiles, bricks and blocks in bulk to keep the site open and ensure no delay to the construction programme. The company subcontracted bricklaying to David White Construction and the roofing works to Shawcroft.