The teaching staff at Redhill Primary Academy in Telford, Shropshire do an incredible job in supporting pupils with their wellbeing, however, space at the popular primary school has been lacking for them to be able to provide this service in a private and quiet area. The Friends of Redhill decided to do something about this and have been fundraising for a dedicated building for pastoral care. Little did they know how vital this would become as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Here, Sarah Thompson, PR Officer for the Friends, explains more about the project…
Passion is key
“We have a lovely setting at Redhill – it’s a really positive atmosphere and the supportive environment that the staff create is fantastic for our children”, Sarah says. Everyone was keen to expand the pastoral care provision at the school as Pru McCarney, Chair of the Friends of Redhill explains: “we must… address children's emotional needs, to make them stronger and fitter for the challenges they will face later in life - pastoral care is so important.”
After the building’s foundations were laid in October, the group of fundraisers struggled to find the help they needed, that was until a team of construction experts from Balfour Beatty Living Places in Telford and Wrekin stepped up to assemble the summer house style building in the grounds of the school.
The Telford & Wrekin Council contractor team, whose day jobs include highway maintenance, highway resurfacing and delivery of major projects, arrived at the school and in just one weekend, put together the structure which now sits proudly in the grounds of the popular primary school which first opened in 1998.
“It’s not often I’m stuck for words,” said Pru McCarney, Chair of The Friends, “but when I heard Balfour Beatty had been in touch and were putting a team together to help us, I was actually speechless. The expertise and professionalism that these people bought to our project was amazing, we would never have done it without them.
Diane Chapman, Balfour Beatty Schemes Manager for Telford and Wrekin, said, “We are absolutely committed to supporting the communities in which we operate. It has been a pleasure to work alongside Redhill Primary Academy and The Friends of Redhill, on this wonderful project. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of our valued supply chain partners, who have rallied together to deliver this essential pastoral care facility which will benefit hundreds of children for years to come.”
Headteacher at the school, Claire Whiting, added, “We feel so fortunate to have the support of the build team in ensuring that our pastoral care building took shape, the finished building looks incredible, and I can’t thank the team enough who worked tirelessly throughout the weekend. We are, as always, so thankful to our wonderful PTA, The Friends of Redhill, who have once again accomplished something remarkable which will not only benefit the children who currently attend our setting but will support children for many years into the future.”
Sarah reports "during the last lockdown, three sisters who all attend Redhill Primary decided to set themselves a challenge - they rode 100 miles on their scooters in March! They also wanted to raise money for the new building and set a target of £150, but this has been eclipsed: they raised a whopping £745, which has gone towards furnishing the new space."
Fabulous fundraising frolics
“We are lucky to have a really passionate and innovative team at the Friends of Redhill Primary Academy – in fact we are often referred to as ‘imaginative, creative and a little bit crazy’ but that’s fine by us!” Long before
coronavirus was a household word, Pru, Sarah and the team were using their imagination to come up with fundraising ideas so they could provide a new devoted pastoral care space for the school.
In order to fund the new building, and to provide other exra resources for the school over recent years, there have been a multitude of events at Redhill, as Sarah describes – “we’ve welcomed the National Children’s Circus, hosted a ‘Secrets, Spies and Superheroes’ community event, which celebrated 100 years of GCHQ, and even turned school into Hogwarts for the day to mark the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book! These have all been really popular, and we’ve found that engaging with ‘national events’ is a great way to increase engagement, both with the school community and the media.”
Redhill has also played host to two festival style events, ‘Redfest’ for Key Stage Two children (also affectionately known as ‘Glastonbury for Kids’) and a winter festival with a fireworks finale. The team also organise regular Valentine, Halloween and Summer Discos along with a Year 6 Prom at the end of summer term.
As well as supporting the new pastoral care building, these events have helped to fund iPads, library books, outdoor furniture, interactive whiteboards, garden storytelling chair, sensory garden and helped with a lease for a school minibus.