A NEW reception area has been unveiled at Hinchingbrooke School to help open its doors to the wider community.

The Huntingdon school has been aiming to build a new 'community reception' for five years so it could create a "focal point for the interface between school and community".

Whereas before, students and parents had to share the same front desk, the new self-contained unit, complete with a swish meeting room, is designed mainly for parents and the wider public.

Students continue to use the old school entrance, which means receptionists can monitor exits and entrances to the site even more carefully and better safeguard children against potential intruders.

"Security is really quite a challenge on a huge site like this," said vice-principal Di Beddow. "We hope this will help to keep students safe. However, apart from safety we also want this to be a warm, welcoming area where parents and community representatives can get information, speak to staff and collect uniform or drop off that forgotten lunchbox!"

Mrs Beddow said her motivation for the project was "about the community having a room they could use - to bring the community in".

The reception was partly paid for by Extended School Funding, which is given to projects that encourage services or activities outside of the school day. The rest of the money came from local developers.

The area has a computer with internet access, so parents can order school uniform online and is designed to be accessible for parents attending events in the meeting room during the evenings.

This means parent and governor meetings can be held in an accessible place, rather than deep inside the school corridors.

"We are proud of our heritage but it can be a barrier to some parents," Mrs Beddow said. "This community reception ensures we are modern and accessible."

The reception is open between 8am and 4.30pm Mondays to Thursdays and until 4pm on Fridays.