Last month, planning permission was granted for the new primary school at the Orchard Grove development in Taunton. The school will serve the new community, with capacity for 420 pupils and 52 nursery places, and room to expand to accommodate an additional 210 children.
An investment of £11.3 million has been secured to build the new school, which will address the shortfall in school places in the local area. The super-energy-efficient Passivhaus design of the school and added solar panels will ensure the building is Net Zero so it doesn’t contribute to climate change. In addition to environmental benefits, this will also lower the school’s running costs meaning funds can be concentrated on education.
The new school – which will have three sports pitches, a range of play equipment, and parking provision for electric vehicles – shows a clear commitment by Somerset Council to ensure new builds are in line with its Climate Emergency Strategy, reducing carbon emissions and making Somerset more resilient to climate change.
The school building will open in September 2024, but from September 2023, pupils will attend Isambard Kingdom Brunel school in Wellington, and home to school transport will be provided. Orchard Grove children will wear their new school uniforms, have the same classes, subject and teachers.
The Castle Partnership Trust has been approved by the Secretary of State for Education as the Academy sponsor who will run the school. Applications for a places in reception this September have already been received.
Councillor Tessa Munt, Executive Lead for Children and Families at Somerset Council said:
I’m thrilled that this Passivhaus school has been approved, and children in the area will have the opportunity to learn in a ‘green’ environment. It’s important to keep energy costs down so schools can focus their resources on education. We’re committed to sustainability, and to improving education and opportunities for children and young people. This is a historic school build we can all take great pride in!
Councillor Sarah Dyke Executive Lead Member for Environment and Climate Change said:
If we are to tackle the challenges that climate change will bring, one of the key tasks for the new Somerset Council will be to hardwire energy efficiency into the development of the county. This be will true of both public and private sectors. The new Orchard School building is a fantastic instance of how the new Council can lead by example.