New primary school marks a milestone

A new £7.3 million primary free school planned for Taunton will be sponsored by The Castle Partnership Trust following Government approval, marking an important milestone in the school’s journey.

The eventual 420-place primary, with early years provision, is set to become Somerset’s first net zero carbon school, and only the third ‘passivhaus’ school in the southwest. It will serve the Orchard Grove housing development in Comeytrowe to meet the expected demand for school spaces.

Construction on the school is due to start in Summer 2022 with delivery planned for the start of the 2023/24 academic year. At first, the school will offer up to 30 reception places and, depending on demand, a mixed Year 1/Year 2 class from September 2023.

The Castle Partnership Trust currently has four schools under its umbrella – The Castle School, Taunton, Court Fields School, Wellesley Park Primary School and Isambard Kingdom Brunel Primary School in Wellington.

Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Public Health, said: “I am pleased that our recommendation of The Castle School Partnership Trust has been approved. This paves the way for another new school for children in Somerset and it’s exciting to see plans for this to be the county’s first carbon neutral school building. This fits squarely with the County Council’s ambitious plans to reduce Somerset’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.”

Sarah Watson, Chief Executive of the Castle Partnership Trust, said: “We are delighted that the new school will be part of The Castle Partnership Trust. A carbon-neutral school gives us a fabulous opportunity to teach the next generation about the environment, giving them the knowledge to make sense of the world and grow into citizens who make a difference.

“As in all our schools, this will be supported by a broad curriculum to give children the power to think for themselves, shaped by what they need to know, understand and fulfil, in order to have happy, successful and prosperous lives. Families coming into this new community at Orchard Grove will be well served by such a high quality provision for their children, giving them the very best start in life, and enabling them to continue their education at The Castle School.”

Somerset County Council has appointed Futures for Somerset to deliver the project, which has been designed by architect firm Stride Treglown to minimise any environmental impact in line with Somerset County Council’s commitment to make Somerset carbon neutral by 2030.