Pupils from Purple Oaks Academy in Northampton and construction firm G F Tomlinson marked the imminent opening of a new building with a special time capsule burial and tree planting ceremony on 16 November.
Staff and employees from G F Tomlinson and the Greenwood Academies Trust, which sponsors Purple Oaks Academy, helped the school’s student council plant two purple oak trees. Pupils also buried a time capsule containing letters and photos from pupils, photos of the building works in progress and a copy of the day’s newspaper, which had been specially selected to give a snapshot of the current school.
The academy are due to move into the new £5 million building in January 2018, which will meet the academic and developmental needs of up to 100 pupils aged between three and 18 who have a diagnosis of autism and/or severe learning difficulties.
Sarah Martin, principal of the Purple Oaks Academy said: “The children enjoyed taking part in the ceremony and are excited about learning in their new environment when they move in. The purpose built building will meet their needs and support them to make outstanding progress in all areas of school life.
“The team at G F Tomlinson have recommended ways in which the children could get involved in the construction of their new school throughout the build and have been responsive to ideas. The site visits have been very important to the children and staff and this special tree planting and time capsule burial event has been so well received by the children.
“Moving to a new building brings lots of challenges for the children and this event was an important start in helping the children take ownership of the building. The significance of the planting and growing of the purple oak trees will be a visual reminder for years to come as the academy grows and develops.”
Midlands-based G F Tomlinson has been on site since January 2017 and is scheduled to hand over the building in December 2017.
Wayne Norrie, chief executive of Greenwood Academies Trust said: “This tree planting event marks another step closer to completing this wonderful project for our pupils and we would like to thank the ESFA (Education & Skills Funding Agency), Northamptonshire County Council and G F Tomlinson for their support with this exciting Free School project.
“This also supports our vision and commitment to educating all children within the communities we serve by opening Special Schools alongside our mainstream provision.”
Andy Sewards, managing director of G F Tomlinson, said he was pleased to celebrate the project nearing completion with the special event.
“As well as the time capsule burial and tree planting event this week, the site team have been showing groups of children and staff around the new school as part of weekly tours. The site visits have allowed the pupils and staff to ask questions about their new school to help make the transition into their new school as seamless as possible when they move in next year.
“We’re proud to have been involved in the delivery of the Purple Oaks Academy building on behalf of Greenwood Academies Trust and have enjoyed working with its staff on this exciting scheme. The academy has been designed and built to meet the specific needs of pupils and staff and I’m confident everyone connected with the academy is looking forward to its opening next year.”
The Purple Oaks Academy will provide education for 50 children from reception year to year 7 in the first year, moving to full capacity of 100 pupils, including nursery-age children, by 2022.
This Free School project is being delivered through the ESFA Framework.
Find out more about G F Tomlinson at www.gftomlinson.co.uk or join the conversation at @GFTomlinson.