ONE of South Gloucestershire’s smallest schools has opened a new extension, paid for by generous fundraisers.

Rangeworthy Primary School held a celebratory ceremony on Thursday (February 13) to mark the official opening of its new hall and kitchen.

Previously, pupils had to eat their lunches in their classrooms and the small, old buildings have never been able to facilitate full school assemblies. Children had to travel to Thornbury Leisure Centre for PE lessons and the school has not been able to invite outside drama, dance or sports teachers in as there has never been space to accommodate them.

But now, thanks to the efforts of parents, pupils and governors, the new hall extension will enable youngsters to eat their lunches and attend assemblies together.

The completion of the project is particularly poignant for outgoing head teacher Mrs Hewitt, who initiated the idea when she joined the teaching staff in 2005.

She said: “The thinking started in 2005 but I never thought it would be finished before I leave this July.

“We didn’t have a proper kitchen before, it was awful, and the children had to eat in their classrooms which meant any work they were doing in the morning would have to be packed away and they had to get it all out again for the afternoon. There were also a lot of spillages and the classrooms would smell of packets of cheese and onion crisps. It had quite an impact.”

She added: “We always had to go outside for PE and had to go regularly to Thornbury as we had no facilities on site.

“Now we can invite outside people in and we have already had a flamenco dancer in which the children loved.”

The project has been managed by parent Jeremy Dale, who offered his professional services free of charge. The school association raised £9,000 towards the build through regular fundraising events, parents running the Bristol Half Marathon and a children’s drawing competition.

The extension has been built on an old yard which meant the removal of several storage sheds and the school has had to manage without a kitchen for several months.

“It has been a challenge,” said Mrs Hewitt. “But apart from the reception classes 18 years ago it is the only extension we have ever had.

“The children are very excited. When it started it was just a dream, we thought it would be wonderful but would cost too much. But because everyone has helped we have managed to achieve it within a fairly short space of time.”

Rev David Russell, rector of Wickwar and Rangeworthy, gave a dedication service and parents and friends of the school were invited to see the hall and pictures of the site before it was built. A special cake was also cut during the opening ceremony.