Bridgewater Primary School, Northampton

May 29, 2012

Bridgewater Primary School, Northampton

We left Bakewell early Friday morning heading for Northampton.  Fortunately we weren’t due there until 10.30am which was good seeing that we knew it would be at least a two hour or so drive and that was without any dramas on the motorway. 

For the first hour we drove through pretty villages including a gorgeous hamlet called Matlock.  I could have stayed and explored there all day.  Next time…

The drive was fortunately uneventful and we arrived at Bridgewater Primary School in Northampton about half an hour early.  We were greeted by one of the teachers, Jessica Wise, whose daughter Izzy was the reason behind the visit.  Izzy had received Alice-Miranda At School for her birthday read it and loved it,  andthen written to me.  I wrote back and so on and so forth and we realized that a visit could be possible.

The school is new and sits on a huge patch of ground.  The Head Teacher, Alison Harvey gave us a tour of the grounds and buildings – both of which were impressive.  It was such a vibrant and happy place.  The children stopped to say hello and there was a gorgeous group of little boys who ran up to us with a box of rocks, ‘these are dinosaur eggs,’ they gasped.  So proud of their findings – it was adorable.

The school is working hard on an environmental focus and has developed a wetland area encouraging all manner of birds.  They also have raised garden beds in which they are bringing along a fantastic vegetable patch too.  There is a lot of land still ripe for more projects.  I was intrigued that the education department doesn’t actually own the school.  Schools are built by private enterprise and then leased back to the school body who pays rent for the building use.  The school has to jump through lots of hoops when they want to make additions or changes as the owner has the final say on what is acceptable.  Hence the school was built without a kitchen which is somewhat problematic when there is a lunch program.  Instead there is a ‘pod’ just outside the main hall area which is a kitchen in a compact space, a little like a demountable.  I can imagine it’s a tricky business in the middle of winter or when its raining to get the meals across.  But the lunch ladies were doing a sterling job when we saw them.

Apart from the lack of kitchen the school seems really well designed and I adore that the library is open plan in the heart of the building, similar to some that we have seen in the US.
I spoke to the Year 3-6 students in two groups.  They were loads of fun and had some of the best quips I’ve heard in ages.

My favourite comment of the tour so far was this.

Me:  ‘So how would you feel if you went home tonight and your parents said that they were moving to Spain and you were staying in England and going to boarding school?’

Various replies: ‘Sad’, ‘Angry’, ‘I’d wonder if they didn’t love me anymore’ ,‘Abandoned’…

And then this.  ‘Are you leaving the laptop behind?’

I laughed until there were tears and so did everyone else.  The young lad was dead pan and priceless. 
The kids were excellent at drama too.
I loved signing their books and the postcards we had made for the tour.  There were three little girls with the most beautiful auburn hair – all of whom looked like perfect little ‘Millie’s’, Alice-Miranda’s best friend.
Jess had arranged for the local newspaper to come and take a photograph, so Izzy and I went for our picture in the library.  I am waiting for it to appear online and then I will put up a link.  It’s the Northampton Chronicle and Echo.

I had a great time at Bridgewater – Jess and I were already talking about next year and doing some writing workshops with the children.  I’ll certainly go back again in a heartbeat.



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