A LONG-awaited primary which will help solve a town’s school places problem has opened its doors for the first time.
The new Cornerstone C of E Primary School in Whiteley saw its first intake of four, five and six-year-olds come in and start learning yesterday.
And for parents and campaigners, it marked the end of years of hard work to secure a new school.
The new building, off Leafy Lane, has been built and furnished in five months.
Staff and governors have been recruited, and school places allocated in eight months.
Chairman of governors Andrew Saunders said: ‘It’s a miracle that it has happened so quickly, after waiting for such a long time. It usually takes two years to create a new school. The moment the first children walked in was quite emotional. It was a long-held dream come true.
‘It feels like a new era for Whiteley, with a new school, new shopping centre and new vicar. There was a real sense of community as parents from different backgrounds came together to campaign for this school to be built.
‘We’re delighted to have the backing and input of the church. We’re thrilled at the way that the partnership with the Church of England is developing.
‘The enthusiasm and passion that the staff, leadership and governors have shown has been tremendous.’
Mr Saunders also praised Hampshire County Council for its help, as well as the governors of Sarisbury Junior School for allowing its headteacher, Charlotte Weavers, to also become executive headteacher at Cornerstone.
The school is designed to be a temporary building for the next four or five years until the new 3,000-home development to the north of Whiteley is built. It will then move to a new location in that area.
Cornerstone plans to expand with each year’s new intake to a maximum of 210 pupils.
Mum Julia Wilks, 32, from Lovage Road in Whiteley, used to send her six-year-old son Fletcher to school in Horndean because of a shortage of local school places.
‘Logistically it was just too far to go,’ she said. ‘This is brilliant and it means that I don’t have to worry about travelling too far. He can make friends with other children who live nearby.
‘It’s a lovely new building and it’s a great opportunity for all the children here.’