THERE was extra excitement for pupils and staff of Houghton Primary School when they returned for their first week back to a new £4.1million school buildings.

Construction of the seven classrooms, atrium and extended school facility was completed on time over the summer ready for the 180-strong cohort to move in at the beginning of term last week.

Headteacher Georgina Young said for pupils and staff the new buildings, which will also house the schools’ childcare club The Phoenix Club, are a dream come true.

The previous school, a 1950s timber-framed building, was knocked down last year and lessons were taught in mobile classrooms until the main building was opened in February.

A grant from the previous Government’s Primary Capital Programme was awarded for the project just a few months ahead of the programme being scrapped by the new Coalition Government.

Mrs Young said: “We were fortunate with the timing. The project began just before the last General Election when the classrooms were demolished.

“[In the old school], it was really cold in winter, and we boiled in summer. In terms of a learning environment, it was awful. Although the governors tried to keep it up, it was a really difficult building to maintain.

“We now have beautiful, light and airy classrooms, an efficient heating system - run on geothermic heat source, purpose built facilities for the pre-school and child care club and wonderful space for the children to learn and play in.

“We also have an atrium, which doubles up as a flexible learning space. And the play space for playtime has changed. It has enabled us to have a separate play area for our youngest.

“It is a dream come true. We keep pinching ourselves everyday.”

Constructors Kier were on-site for 18 months working on the project. Mrs Young thanked residents for their support and patience during the building work.

Former pupils, parents, governors, villagers, local authority staff and councillors have been invited for a celebratory grand opening of the new school next week.

She said: “It has been a difficult 18 months, but the project has been really positive, and it has been worth all the upheaval.

“The community have been so supportive of this project. They were so pleased to keep the school in the village. It will be good if we can open it up more for the community to use.”

INFORMATION: The grand opening will take place at 11am on Saturday, September 24. The buildings will be open to visitors from 1pm. Refreshments will be on sale throughout the day. All are welcome.