The start of work to build Somerset’s first ever carbon net zero school was marked with a timber framing ceremony yesterday, after land at the Orchard Grove housing development in Taunton was handed from the Orchard Grove Consortium to Somerset Council.

Orchard Grove Primary School is expected to welcome staff and students from September 2024. Sponsored by Castle Partnership Trust, the School will offer places to 420 pupils from Reception to year 6, as well as 52 nursery places and feature three sports pitches, a production kitchen and a library. It will serve the surrounding communities and the design allows for an extension to accommodate a further 210 children if these are needed in the future.

Funded by Somerset Council as part of their School Growth Programme, the £12.3million build will incorporate solar panel technology, air source heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points in line with the Council’s commitment to decarbonisation.

Councillor Tessa Munt, Executive Lead Member for Children, Families and Education at Somerset Council said:

These are exciting first steps for our new school build. We are creating a modern learning environment for Orchard Grove Primary’s future pupils, where they will be supported to thrive and achieve.”

Our environmentally-friendly building shows our young people that we are committed to their academic achievement, personal development and their futures beyond the realms of education as we seek to mitigate and control our impact on the environment.

Councillor Dixie Darch, Executive Lead Member for Climate Change and the Environment at Somerset Council, said:

Orchard Grove Primary will be an historic building of which Somerset can be proud, being the first fully net zero, climate resilient school in our county. The energy efficiency of the building will allow for cost savings which can be channelled back into educational resources. There will be more like this to come as the Council delivers against its Climate Emergency Strategy and, meanwhile, we continue to decarbonise as many of our existing buildings as possible.

Emma Colin, Regional Managing Director of Vistry Western, part of the Orchard Grove Consortium, said:

The new school will provide an essential amenity at Orchard Grove, and we are pleased to play a part in its progress. Delivering new developments is about building futures and creating opportunities, and a new school embodies this sentiment perfectly. A green, sustainable, high-quality facility like this is such an exciting addition and we know countless families will benefit from it in the many years to come.

Richard Healey, Headteacher of Orchard Grove and member of the The Castle Partnership Trust, said:

The school will centre itself firmly in the heart of its local community by ensuring pupils have a clear sense of what makes a good citizen. Pupils will have a strong sense of themselves in the local, national and global context and of the responsibility they have to others, in the present and in the future. Orchard Grove will create an environment where children, staff and the community can build a positive and progressive school culture around sustainability and education. Within the setting of Somerset’s first net zero carbon school, children will be inspired by a unique curriculum that is preparing them for lifelong learning and a positive impact in the world.

From this term, Orchard Grove children are attending Isambard Kingdom Brunel School in Wellington, where they will have the same classes, subjects and teachers as when they commence their time in the new building next year.

The new Orchard Grove school being built

About this article

September 28, 2023

Debbie Rundle

Children and Families

Press Release