10:50am Friday 17th January 2014
By Helen Russell
PUPILS who excitedly watched their new school hall being built from scratch are reaping the rewards of the completed facility.
Children and staff at St Mary’s RC School, in Barnard Castle, struggled to fit into their old cramped hall, especially for PE lessons and events involving their family, friends and the community, prior to the £275,000 refurbishment.
Work started last summer to demolish an existing classroom and lay the foundations for the new hall.
A new classroom was built over the summer holidays and the entire back of the building was clad in timber.
The construction work was completed in December, just in time for the school play.
Headteacher Jane Weatherall said the refurbishment had been a long process, which started in October 2012 with the installation of a new hard-standing and play equipment in the school grounds to counteract the loss of yard space where the new classroom was to be built.
A grant of £250,000 was given to the 96-pupil school from the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and the remainder was made up of funding from St Mary’s RC Church, in Barnard Castle, and fundraising events held by the school.
Mrs Weatherall said the pupils had enjoyed watching the building work take place, particularly when there were diggers on site.
She added: “The children are so excited about it and they really loved watching the building grow.
“It was very difficult to do PE before, especially with the older children, and it was difficult to fit all the parents and grandparents in who wanted to attend certain events.
“Now we can have community events and things like that.
“It was lovely to host the school play in the new hall during the first week it opened and be able to fit all the parents in.
“It also means the children have all the space that they should have during PE lessons.”
It is hoped another new classroom will be built at the school sometime in the near future, subject to planning permission and funding.
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