Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

Pupils open new teaching block that provides ‘community’ and ‘calm’

Tuesday, 18 October 2022

Thornhill Primary School gets a new building in Houghton Regis.

A hall that “smells like popcorn”, wonderful colours, natural finishes that make children “feel calmer” and spaces that make Thornhill Primary School feel “more like a community” – this was just some of the praise heaped upon a brand-new teaching block by pupils as they helped officially unveil it.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, October 14 marked the opening of the state-of-the-art new building in Houghton Regis, which is the first in Central Bedfordshire to have been built to the highest sustainable Passivhaus standards to deliver super energy efficiency.

Pupils cheer as they help officially open Thornhill Primary School's new teaching block

Built as part of our New School Places programme to meet growing demand from the nearby emerging housing developments at Houghton Regis North 1 (the Linmere Development) and Houghton Regis North 2, the new teaching block will allow the school to expand from 210 to 630 pupils.

And children in year groups 2 to 6 have been settling into the space on Silver Birch Avenue since the start of term in September, with the new environment already having a positive effect on them.

Deputy Headteacher, Chris Gunning, said:

They really like the space that they’ve got in their new classrooms. They love the colours and they mentioned that we’ve got wood on the ceilings, in our halls and around the doors, which helps them to ‘feel calmer’. It's great that the children notice that it’s making them feel that way.

A lot of our kids here need support for whatever reason, whether that’s to push them because they’re brilliant learners, or if they need some extra support. Now, we’ve got a building that provides space for us to intervene and help them make more and more progress, which is what we are all about.

They like that the corridors are much more communal spaces. It gives them a chance to see children in other year groups, which they said feels more like a community.

We’ve got a school that not only looks fantastic, but is an educational experience in itself, and because of the way the teaching block is designed, we are now an eco-school. We started the Green Flag incentive because we were inspired by the design, so we’d like to thank everyone involved on behalf of all the staff, all the kids and all the parents at our school.

Our Executive Member for Families, Education and Children, Councillor Sue Clark, said:

We’re proud that the design of the building has already had such a positive effect on them and that they’ll continue to engage with environmental issues as part of their education.

As well as its sustainable credentials, this new teaching block was also built as part of our New School Places programme, which is about creating additional places in areas of demand and emerging housing growth so that children can go to a good local school on their doorstep.

And the increased capacity at Thornhill Primary School will mean that more young people will be able to attend and thrive in an environment that enables them to get the most out of their education.

In attendance were Central Bedfordshire Council Chairman Gordon Perham, ward councillors Susan Goodchild (Houghton Hall) and Patrick Hamill (Tithe Farm) and Houghton Town Mayor Councillor Yvonne Farrell, plus representatives from Ashe Construction, who built the block, ECD Architects, who designed it, and Lands Improvement, who are behind the nearby Linmere housing development.

John Heaney MCIAT, Project Lead for ECD Architects, said:

It was a real pleasure to be with the local school community, and to see this new building at Thornhill Primary School officially opened to cater for the expanding community in the Linmere housing-led development.

Designed to ensure it is one of the most energy-efficient primary schools in the country, Central Bedfordshire Council has ensured the local community will have an exceptional learning environment for years to come. I wish all the pupils many years of healthy learning and I hope, as the children grow in the school, they take some inspiration from a building that, in one small step, is helping provide a more sustainable future for them and the generations to come.

Andrew Morris, Ashe Construction Business Development Director, said:

Central Bedfordshire Council have been visionary in their approach to this new school. To make the investment in a Passivhaus school signals their intention to become a leading force in creating a sustainable future for us all. It was a challenging project but one that has delivered exceptional results, and one that we are very proud to have been involved with.

Ben Phillips, Linmere Development Director, said:

We are extremely excited by the opening of the Thornhill extension, and we welcome the school as an integral part of the new Linmere community.