Council Leader David Baines was among the guests as Bleak Hill Primary School celebrated the official opening of its new complex in honour of a former headteacher, following the completion of a £2.5m expansion project.
With ambitions for the Outstanding-rated Hamilton Road school in Windle to become a three-form entry to meet demand for pupil places, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet approved extension plans in January 2019, followed by planning permission in February 2020.
As part of the works, four classrooms have been built – increasing each year group to 90 pupils, along with a new hall and playground as well as 15 spaces for parents to use as a drop-off and collection point.
The new extension area has been named the ‘Ian Wellens Wing’; in honour of the school’s former headteacher who retired at the end of the summer term after 16 years of loyal service, during which time he retained Bleak Hill’s Outstanding status for a long period of time, going the extra mile for every pupil, no matter their needs or challenges.
Commenting on how much of a difference the new space will make, new headteacher Melissa Lawrenson said:” We are delighted to have opened our new early years foundation setting (EYFS) building. The children have classrooms and outdoor space that offer a rich, multi-sensory environment that is meaningful, stimulating and motivating.
“Over the past few weeks, it has been lovely to welcome our new children and families into Bleak Hill and for them to commence their school journey in the new purpose built EYFS surroundings.”
David Baines, Leader of S Helens Council, said:
“Ian Wellens has served Bleak Hill Primary School and the wider community with distinction and dedication for many years, and he leaves a lasting legacy. His legacy isn’t just the fantastic new classroom block, but it’s the brilliant staff, the school culture, and most important of all its hundreds of young people who have enjoyed a superb education here thanks to him and the whole school family.
“Everyone with a connection to the school will miss Mr Wellens very much, but thanks to the foundations he’s laid and the example he’s set, we know the school will continue to go from strength to strength under Mrs Lawrenson and the fantastic staff team.”
Councillor Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Business said:
“These new classrooms will allow more children to access a quality education at Bleak Hill – one of the top performing schools in the borough. As a council, one of our key priorities is to ensure children and young people have the best possible starts in life, and projects like this – as well as similar improvement works set for Penkford and Ashurst Primary School – are clear proof of our commitment.”