The children of an “inspirational” former Derwent Primary School governor, whose memory will be honoured with the naming of a new teaching block, were among the pupils that buried a time capsule to officially mark the construction period of an expansion project, as part of the Schools for the Future programme.
This is a long-term programme to raise education standards in Central Bedfordshire by ensuring the area has the right schools, in the right places, delivering the best education. Moving towards a two-tier educational system is part of achieving this and Derwent Primary transitioned from a lower school in September 2021.
A new building, which will include ten additional classrooms, is under construction to support this age range change and, once complete, will be named in memory of former governor Leah McDermott, who sadly passed away.
Her two daughters Abbie and Chloe joined four Year 5 pupils – that will become the school’s first-ever Year 6 cohort as part of the expansion – to bury a time capsule containing photographs, information about Derwent Primary School pupils, what they would like to do when they grow up and things they like about the school.
Speaking at the ceremony, Derwent Primary School Chair of Governors, Caroline Coombs, said: “Once the new two-storey building is complete it will be known as the Buttercup building, in memory of our great friend and much-loved governor, Leah McDermott, who sadly passed away in June 2020. Leah was an inspirational and committed governor who always went above and beyond to ensure the best for Derwent’s children.
“The school community wished to honour Leah and decided the building would be a lasting memorial to her. It was a great privilege to have Leah’s daughters Chloe and Abbie place the time capsule in the ground on the school’s behalf. We’d like to thank Central Bedfordshire Council for making this journey possible and for investing in our children’s future. We will continue to ensure that every child who attends Derwent receives the best possible education.”
Cllr Sue Clark, Executive Member for Families, Education and Children, said: “The Derwent Primary expansion project is the next important stage after the school became was one of the first in Central Bedfordshire to transition to the two-tier educational system, as part of Schools for the Future programme. I’m delighted that the school have been able to capture this moment, leaving a lasting legacy that will tell their story to future generations. I am very glad that Abbie and Chloe could help honour their mother’s memory as part of this. I look forward to the school soon benefitting from and enjoying the new school classrooms and facilities.”
Derwent Primary School Executive Headteacher, James Adkins, said: “On behalf of Derwent Primary School, we are delighted with how the work on our new reception classrooms and teaching block is progressing. We are very much looking forward to the end result where we officially become a two-form entry primary school. The time capsule ceremony is a way to celebrate the plans of the school and all that the children and staff have to look forward to.”
Sue Archer, Central Bedfordshire Council Schools for the Future Programme Director, said: “This is an important milestone in the progress of the expansion project at Derwent Primary School. As part of the Schools for the Future programme, the school is among an early group of schools in the Shefford and Stotfold area, which are the first to transition from three-tier to the primary/secondary education model. We thank them for their help and support in working with us on this complex programme of work, which is also progressing here and now among the remaining schools in the area. We look forward to continuing to build these important relationships and delivering on our aims of improving education standards in Central Bedfordshire.”
Moomith Ullah, Director of SMD Ltd, said: “We are honoured to be working in collaboration with Central Bedfordshire Council, Concertus, Derwent Primary School, and the Schools for the Future Programme to deliver this education project for the Central Bedfordshire area. Being a company local to the area, we believe our contribution to this development will set a benchmark for a positive transition across the area. We hope that staff, students, and visitors of this school will enjoy the completed facilities for many years to come. Our focus now is on delivering a successful project and providing a state-of-the-art teaching facility to accommodate the much-needed expansion.”
Concertus’ Associate Director, Darren Fellowes, said: “We are very pleased to be part of delivering this prestigious project with SMD Ltd and Central Bedfordshire Council. Working with the council and local communities to deliver their Schools for the Future programme has been an honour to be a part of. We are excited that we can celebrate the progress of this project with such a fantastic event.”
The school currently has 150 places and 30 nursery places, with an age range of 3-9 years. The expansion will allow the school to increase its age range by two-year groups, from 3-11 years, providing 60 pupil places in each year group, with a total of 480 places.