DURSLEY’s only primary school has just been boosted by over half a million pounds in grant money to help redevelop its ageing buildings.
Dursley Primary Academy was awarded the princely sum of £569,250 by the Education Funding Agency, which is being invested in a brand new kitchen and canteen area for its 277 pupils.
It will also pave the way to demolish the current rundown outbuilding housing the kitchen equipment, which will significantly cut costs for the academy.
A currently unoccupied wing of the main building is to be fitted out with new technology and will be able to serve the children in the gym hall.
Headteacher Paul Daniels told the Gazette he was delighted with the news and it would make a real difference to the children.
“We are over the moon,” he said.
“I think it is a message for the children, the teachers and the parents that things are continually moving forward for us and this continues the real positive story of our journey and what we want to give the children.”
The academy also provides meals for other primary schools in the area, including Cam Hopton, Uley, Coaley and Everlands.
This development will ensure they can meet the Government’s new initiative for free school meals for all infant-aged children for both the academy and the other schools.
The transition marks the start of a five-year plan by Mr Daniels to redevelop the school on Fourth Avenue which is too large for its pupil numbers.
Because funding is based on pupil numbers, it means the academy faces a constant struggle to maintain its buildings.
“The issue is we have a large building and have great learning spaces but we do not have sufficient funding to maintain that,” said Mr Smith.
The school has gone from strength to strength since November 2011 when it received an “unsatisfactory” Ofsted report which Mr Daniels, who took over the running of the school shortly after, admitted was “traumatic” for the staff.
By May 2012, the education establishment was told it was making good progress and by February 2013 it had boosted its Ofsted rating by two places up to “good”, announcing soon after it would become an academy.
The change, which meant the school left the direct control of the local authority and instead would be supported by sponsor Diocese of Gloucester Academies Trust, ensures the school can apply twice a year to the EFA for grants.
Mr Daniels said the grant was a good argument for turning to an academy, sometimes seen as a controversial move, but it had not changed the school’s core values.
“The same magic is happening everyday. Same teachers, same children, same school,” he said.
“I am really really lucky to have the staff I have and without them to lead and make the difference, none of this would have been possible at all.”