On behalf of the children, staff and governors, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the opening of our new building. I am especially delighted to welcome Mr Craig Mackinlay, MP for South Thanet, who will officially declare the building open this morning.
This project has been a collaboration of many people from a range of different organisations. I am pleased to welcome representatives from Kent County Council, Thanet District Council, Kier Construction, GPM Partnership, and our school’s governing body.
Some special thanks are in order: Mrs Val Hardy, Project Manager from KCC, has worked tirelessly to get the very best value for money for the children of Cliftonville. To Mrs Claudine Murray, chair of governors, for her commitment to the project and outstanding leadership of our governing body to secure the fantastic building you will see later this morning.
To our school premises team, led by Mrs Crittenden, for being the eyes and ears of the school during the project and to Miss Cooke for leading on aspects of finance including very complicated legal documents with red lines on them.
It is also lovely to welcome so many local residents with us this morning. We are so grateful that you have been incredibly accommodating throughout the building process. I am sure that there were times when the inconvenience of vans, diggers and noise was more than a little tiresome.
We are also joined by headteacher colleagues from the Coastal Academies Trust, of which Cliftonville is a member and by Dr Virginia Austin, Chair of the Coastal Academies Board. This is a group of local schools working together for the benefit of children across Thanet.
And finally to the best senior leaders I could wish for. They have carried on steering the ‘teaching and learning’ ship when I have been in buildings meetings about coat hooks and roof ventilation.
Thank you to everyone who has played a part from the earliest plans to ticking off the, nearly, finished snagging list.
But for me, the VIPs are the children in this hall from Year R and Year 1 and children from the two school councils. This is their school… their classrooms to grow and develop academically, socially, morally and spiritually.
A request from Kent County Council more than two years ago to consider expansion was recognition of the confidence they had in the school to deliver a high quality education. Our governing body, led by Mrs Claudine Murray, agreed to the proposal.
The new teaching block provides this hall and kitchen serving over 400 lunches a day, a second staffroom and new facilities for eight classes - four reception classes that we admitted in this academic year and ready for four year 1 classes next September.
It is a much improved learning environment which supports high quality teaching and improved outcomes for the children. Educators are increasingly aware of the interaction between physical spaces and learning environment. But lovely buildings alone do not make a difference.
The key to a quality education lies in the dedication of the staff. It is such a privilege to be Headteacher at Cliftonville School leading a committed and talented team who believe in, and have high expectations of, the children. No stone is left unturned in making sure we give them the best life chances. Looking around the building first thing this morning, I was struck by how quickly it has become ‘part of the school’, it is new… and yet lived in. It has been staff who moved their classrooms after school, staying late every night so that the new rooms were ready as soon as possible…class teachers, teaching assistants, premises team working together as a team.
It is the Cliftonville experience that nurtures our children to be hardworking, high achieving, independent, confident and compassionate individuals. They understand, because they show us by their actions every day, our school values. They are respectful, kind and resilient…they know how to put things right when they go wrong.
With an exciting and creative curriculum they learn through themed days, special weeks and visits. The children learnt a lot about Parliament and democracy in a special week of events in November. During the week, thirty children visited Westminster where they were lucky enough to meet Mr Mackinlay. It is at this point that I would like to hand over to the children from the KS2 school council followed by the formal opening by Mr Mackinlay.