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Work starts at Great Torrington

Taken from Devon Live:

Work has started on a £ 1.5 million upgrade for Great Torrington School to manage rising pupil numbers. GTS opened its doors in September 1939, and throughout the years, the school has been extended many times, due primarily to pupil numbers increasing from 296 in 1939 to circa 850.

The school had previous expansion projects completed in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 00s and most recently in 2008. Now there is another build starting in 2022.

The project consists of a new building within an enclosed quad, avoiding the loss of outside space and creating a fully integrated addition to the school's infrastructure. There will be three new classrooms, offices, small group work areas, and a new library connected to the main school via a new link.

Headteacher Andy Bloodworth said: "It shows how times have changed when considering the school cost £25,582 to build in 1939 with the new block expected to cost nearly £1.5m. With even more young people in the area, and yet more choosing to send their child to GTS, a need to expand further was identified.

"This project was first planned in 2012; however, it has taken until 2022 for funding to be secured. The school repeatedly attempted to obtain central government funding to support the project, which was always unsuccessful. During this time, many other schools in the area were built, refurbished, or extended.

"Excitingly, funding has now been secured, and the project started in earnest on Monday, October 17. GTS and Devon County Council are jointly funding the project. With pupil numbers predicted to exceed 900 over the next two years, this build ensures all pupils at GTS, current and future, can access high-quality facilities."

As well as providing classrooms this project enables further development of provision for pastoral care and emotional and learning support for small groups further extending the offer available through the Hardy Centre.

Mr Bloodworth said: "GTS prides itself in supporting the whole pupil; whilst academic success is a key measure, the overall wellbeing of its pupils is of equal importance. This new build will allow GTS to deliver its vision of providing a nurturing and holistic education for the young people and the community it serves.

"The existing library will be re-modelled into additional dining space for pupils, providing a much-needed expansion to the original small dining hall built in 1939. Disruption to current pupils is being carefully managed and is closely monitored, with everyone involved working to ensure minimal impact on pupils' learning. The doors are scheduled to open ready for the new academic year in September 2023.

"With a bumper year group predicted to start in September, a "Good" Ofsted judgement, and strong exam results, the future of GTS is looking bright."

Devon County Council's cabinet member with responsibility for schools, Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, said: "I am delighted that Devon County Council is helping to fund this much-needed expansion for Great Torrington School to accommodate its growing pupil numbers. Once completed, the new facilities will provide additional classrooms, enhance the school's emotional and wellbeing support for pupils, and a new library. I very much look forward to seeing the new accommodation next year."



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