Work has started to build a new fit-for-purpose home for Ashurst Primary School in Blackbrook.
The £7.7m project – fully funded by St Helens Borough Council – will be built within the footprint of the existing school playground in accordance with planning permission granted in June 2021.
Replacing the current 1970s building, the new building will be a modern, vibrant learning facility which will increase classroom size – taking capacity for up to 240 pupils – and support children with special educational needs.
The new school will also have green credentials with an air source heat pump, improved thermal performance, electric vehicle charging points, and solar panels – greatly reducing carbon emissions and supporting the council’s climate emergency declaration of achieving net zero status by 2040.
Once the new school building is complete in spring 2023, work will then start to carefully take down the existing school to create the replacement play areas, as well as enhanced car parking provision.
Commenting on a recent site visit, Councillor Kate Groucutt, St Helens Borough Council’s cabinet member for education, skills and business, said: “With very limited government funding available for improving our schools, we are only here today due to the commitment of this council to ensuring children and young people have a positive start in life, and prioritising investment in our education facilities. A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes, so it’s great to be here on site and I’d like to thank everyone involved for making this exciting development possible.
“Children should have the opportunity to learn in an environment that helps them to flourish, and as a council we are committed to creating that, as well as promoting environmental improvements and social value for the community through our capital projects.”
Ashurst Primary School headteacher, Lisa Houghton said: “All staff and children here at Ashurst are excited for our new facility and I’d like to thank St Helens Borough Council for this investment which will ensure the very best learning environment for pupils to thrive and achieve their potential.
“The new modern building will provide the resources to support all our children on their educational journey in the spirit of our school mantra: ‘Excellence Everyday’.”
Kier Construction – who have a history of working on a number of sizable projects in education – will oversee the development, aiming to keep disruption to a minimum.
Sean Fenner, regional director for Kier Construction North & Scotland said: “We are delighted to be starting works on Ashurst Primary School, building upon our extensive experience within the primary education sector in the North West of England and leaving a lasting legacy in the local area through the provision of new pupil places and facilities in St Helens by supporting the council in their journey to net zero and delivering social value initiatives, focussing on recruitment of local labour and our employment skills plan to further benefit residents and the local community.”
As part of the contract, Kier Construction will recruit at least 20 per cent of labour from within the borough and fulfil commitments to provide opportunities to the local area.
The whole scheme is expected to be completed by winter 2023.