There was cause for celebration as the new King Ina Church of England Academy in Somerton was officially opened by Rt Revd Bishop Ruth Worsley, the Bishop of Taunton on Wednesday, 29 September.
Somerset County Council invested £7.6m to develop the new primary school which can accommodate up to 420 pupils and 52 early years children, with 14 classrooms, a pre-school, a school hall, a production kitchen, sports pitches and a multi-use games area.
The facilities were designed and built by BAM Construction who used innovative design and construction techniques to ensure the school has strong environmental credentials.
Three weeks into the new school year, the children and staff are settling in well in their new school setting. The Bishop of Taunton was invited to the official opening where she spoke to the children before presenting a plaque to the headteacher Suzie Svenson. Bishop Ruth then joined several pupils and dignitaries for a ribbon cutting ceremony outside the main entrance, before the group headed to the school field to plant a new tree gifted by Bishop Ruth as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative for the Platinum Jubilee.
Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Public Health said: “It is fantastic to see the Council delivering yet another excellent education facility in Somerset.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved in the project to deliver this new school; the staff, governors, parents and pupils at King Ina CofE Academy, BAM Construction, SCC’s Education team, the archaeological team, and the many others working collaboratively to bring this new school building to life.”
Suzie Svenson, Headteacher of King Ina Church of England Academy, said: “We are pleased to finally have the opportunity to celebrate the opening of our new school with a visit from Bishop Ruth and to be able to thank all of those who were involved in the building of our school. It has been fantastic to see all of the children working and playing together on one site, as one big King Ina family.”
Plans for the school to open in September 2020 were delayed due to archaeologists uncovering evidence of an Iron Age settlement at the site ahead of construction.
The Wessex Archaeology team carried out excavation and discovered ancient burial sites that have shed significant light on life and death in Roman Somerset, as well as evidence of roundhouse buildings and other artefacts including pottery.
Once the archaeological work was complete, construction of the new school went ahead, and pupils started attending in April 2021. The official opening event was postponed until September due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The new facilities have had a positive impact on the day-to-day running of the school with staff and children no longer having to travel between two sites. King Ina previously operated across two locations at opposite ends of the town, with pupils and staff having to travel between Etsome Terrace and Kirkham Street on a daily basis.
Notes to editors
Picture shows (L-R) Jason Cisneros, Project Manager – BAM Construction, Rt Revd Bishop Ruth Worsley, Suzie Svenson, Headteacher – King Ina CofE Academy, Mike Keal, SCC Programme Manager (School Build), Cllr Faye Purbrick, former Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Education, Liz Smith, SCC Service Manager (Schools Commissioning) with King Ina CofE pupils
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