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Avanti Brook: Construction begins on first primary school for Stortford Fields – and the greenest in Bishop's Stortford

Work has begun on Bishop's Stortford's newest and greenest primary school – and the first for Stortford Fields.

The £14.5m cost of Avanti Brook is being covered by local education authority Hertfordshire County Council.

The school will be the third to be operated by the Avanti Academy Trust, following the opening of Avanti Meadows at St Michael's Hurst in 2021. This academic year, the primary is the temporary home of Avanti Grange secondary while its campus is being constructed, ready for September 2023.

Cllr Terry Douris, project officers, contractors, Avanti Meadows pupils and their parents view the Avanti Brook site (60635808)
Cllr Terry Douris, project officers, contractors, Avanti Meadows pupils and their parents view the Avanti Brook site (60635808)

Avanti Brook, being built by Hertfordshire-based ASHE Construction, is set to open at the same time. It will offer up to 30 reception places and 26 places for nursery-aged children each year, eventually growing to provide 420 school places.

Cllr Terry Douris, HCC's executive member for education, said: "We're committed to developing sustainable communities in Hertfordshire, providing residents with the infrastructure needed to make new developments great places to live – this includes providing good local schools which children can walk to.

"The children joining the school in September will have the unique distinction in that they'll be able to look at the school in 50 years' time and say that was my school from day one. The school is being built with the future in mind; by prioritising environmental sustainability in construction and operation, we're taking a big step towards building a cleaner, greener and healthier Hertfordshire."

Avanti Meadows primary school at St Michael's Hurst
Avanti Meadows primary school at St Michael's Hurst

Environmental sustainability has been built into the school from the outset, in line with the county council's ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030.

This week, those living near the new school's development site will start to see structurally insulated panels (SIPs) put in place. They lower carbon dioxide levels by absorbing carbon into the timber and are more environmentally sustainable than traditional construction materials such as steel, concrete and masonry.

Once complete, the school will be net carbon zero in operation, using only electricity for power and heating, aided by solar panels which will help to generate the electricity needed to run the school.

Andrew Morris, business development director at ASHE Construction, said: "This significant investment in sustainable infrastructure demonstrates Hertfordshire County Council's intention to address the climate emergency head on, and we are proud to be able to assist in delivering a building that is part of the solution in ensuring that there is a brighter future for the students of Avanti Brook School."

Head of Avanti Grange Rhys Jones with the new secondary school's uniform
Head of Avanti Grange Rhys Jones with the new secondary school's uniform

Mitul Patel, project manager at Avanti Schools Trust, said: "Building the new Avanti Brook Primary School is a very exciting project – the spacious classrooms and outdoor areas will give children a fantastic place to learn and play.

"Building a net zero carbon building very much aligns with Avanti schools' ethos and will inspire children and the community on a key focus point in our daily lives."

Avanti Brook is also the first primary school in Hertfordshire with plans for a special resource provision (SRP).

If approved by the Regional Schools Commissioner in spring 2023, it will offer group-based learning for 12 pupils with speech, language, communication needs and autism, who do not require a special school but need additional support.

Support in SRPs is tailored to each individual pupil and aims to develop their social and communication skills and confidence, so they can increase the amount of time they are able to spend in mainstream classes.

Interested parents will be able to find out more about the new school at a virtual open evening on Thursday (Nov 17) and an open day on Wednesday January 11. Visit https://avanti.org.uk/avantibrook/opendays for more information.

Parents can apply for a reception place to start in September 2023 (email avantbrook@avanti.org.uk for a paper application).

The school is operating outside the normal co-ordinated admissions process for reception and can be a fifth preference for children with a direct application to the school in addition to the four preferences allowed on the Hertfordshire application form.

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