Redhill Primary Academy puts Pastoral Care first with new dedicated building
Set in Telford, Shropshire, Redhill Primary Academy has over 400 pupils on its role, and a dedicated parent network in the Friends of Redhill. Sarah Thompson, PR Officer for the Friends, explains, “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.” Pastoral care has always been a strength of the school, one which the Friends have worked hard to support, and were keen to expand. 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.” This set the Friends and the School down the path of building a new space dedicated to providing emotional support and wellbeing services.
Passion is key
After the building’s foundations were laid in October, the group of fundraisers struggled to find the help they needed, until a team of construction experts from Balfour Beatty Living Places in Telford and Wrekin stepped up to assemble the summerhouse-style building in the grounds of the school.
“It’s not often I’m stuck for words,” said Pru, “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.
The Telford & Wrekin Council contractor team, whose day jobs include highway maintenance, resurfacing, and delivery of major projects, arrived at the school and put together the structure in just one weekend! It now sits proudly in the grounds of the popular primary school which first opened in 1998.
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 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 give enough thanks to the team — who worked tirelessly throughout the weekend.”
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. “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!”
In order to fund the new building, and to provide other resources for the school over recent years, the friends have hosted a multitude of events at Redhill. “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 Redhill Primary 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,” reports Sarah.
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.
Not even the challenges of COVID were enough to throw off the Friends’ fundraising efforts. “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.”
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. The success of the Friends of Redhill Primary comes down to their ability to get people involved in events and support on all levels – whether it’s a trio of fundraising sisters, a team of generous contractors, or their own committee members. Everybody has talents and skills to contribute, which makes successes like Redhill’s new pastoral space more attainable than you might think…
With thanks to Sarah Thompson and Pru McCartney of the Friends of Redhill Primary Academy.