IT WAS smiles all round at the official groundbreaking ceremony for Barton Farm Academy as spectators were told plans “are now running smoothly.”

The school, which is part of the new Kings Barton development in Winchester, was originally meant to open in Spring 2019 after planning permission was given to Hampshire County Council four years ago.

But schedules were delayed due to the slow progress of the rest of the long-awaited development of 2,000 homes, which was given the green light back in 2012.

Now, the ground has officially been broken for the £9million school and the builders Willmott Dixon expect it to be finished by May next year.

City and county councillor, Jackie Porter, who is also part of the county council’s Education Advisory Panel, said: “It’s now running smoothly. We didn’t have enough children to fill it last time, and of course the money from those children is necessary to run a school.

“But now, lots of people moving in have children, or are having children, and our teams are predicting that the numbers will be sufficient in 2020.

“It’s not a science, but an art, trying to figure out how many kids you are going to have! Of course, you never know how many people are going to move in or out.”
Barton Farm will have an attendance of up to 420 children between four and 11 years, and will feed into the Henry Beaufort School.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, MP Steve Brine went hands on with a shovel, and said: “This is going to be a very special school, and it’s very exciting to be part of the trustee team to be building this school. I think the children that come here are going to be really, really lucky. It’s going to be a fantastic eco-school, it’s gonna be outstanding in every sense of the word, and it’s amazing to be able to see it being built literally from the ground up!”

The University of Winchester Academy Trust is the sponsor for the new school, and has been working with the county council’s architects to design a building which meets high standards for environmental sustainability.

It is to feature solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system.

Vice-Chancellor at the university, Joy Carter, said: “This will be a fantastic eco-school, and we will nurture it into one of the best educational facilities in Winchester.
“I’m really delighted the project is doing so well and I can’t wait to see the final outcome.”

Nicola Wells, who has been in different headteacher roles for the last 15 years, has been appointed as head of school when it opens, and Vice-Chancellor Carter said:  “she will make this perfect”.“I’m incredibly excited to be the first head at this brand new school. We have a real opportunity to create a community.”