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Interview with Todmorden C of E School's Business Manager About New Eco Classroom

Exterior finished Double Storey Eco Classroom for Todmorden C of E Junior, Infant and Nursery School by Bridge Timber Products with balcony

While the team at Bridge Timber enjoy working on all projects, projects that make an especially big impact and that have been part of a real community effort are the most memorable. One such success story within the local community has been the Eco Classroom we built this year for Todmorden C of E Junior, Infant and Nursery School, which opened ready for the use of pupils and teachers at the start of this academic year. 

The project was special for two reasons: Firstly, because it was our first ever Double Storey Eco Classroom and secondly because it brought together different organisations within the community to make it possible, with Todmorden Cricket Club permitting access for the structure and Todmorden-based architects Pullman Associates working alongside our team of builders to make the purpose-built nursery classroom a reality. Ultra Fabrication & Maintenance Service Ltd and Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council also played significant roles in making the project happen. 

You can see photos of how the project progressed and read our case study here. 

The opening of the new classroom even made it into the local press, as the conclusion of the project coincided with the retirement of popular headteacher Chris Wightman, who left the school after 29 years of working there. You can read the article on the Todmorden News website here. 

The modern classroom was partly funded by a government grant, which was awarded after Todmorden C of E Junior, Infant and Nursery School's Business Manager Alwyn Sutcliffe, together with the Calderdale Early Years Unit's Martyn Sharples and Nikki Wood found that there was a need for more childcare places in Todmorden.

We decided to interview Alwyn about what the new Double Storey Eco Classroom installation has meant for the school and those who attend it: 

Inside Todmorden C of E Junior, Infant and Nursery School's Double Storey Eco Classroom

1. How have the pupils at Todmorden C of E Junior, Infant and Nursery School benefitted from having the new double storey eco classroom?

"The classroom replaced a single storey building which had passed its useful life. We now have a two-storey, four-roomed wooden eco-building, designed and built to the highest possible specification with children at the forefront of the design. The building is totally accessible and provides a state of the art space for our community to access, play and learn.

"During the school day children from the main school, have the opportunity to work in the rooms, which allow space for teaching and learning. The kitchen is designed with a breakfast bar area to allow children to work in small groups in line with the introduction of Food Technology in the National Curriculum. We open from 7.00am each day with Breakfast Club and close After School Club at 6.15pm each evening, providing a vital facility of wraparound care, allowing parents to access the new Government 30-hour childcare initiative, and also [making it easier for them to] work locally and regionally should their child be of school age. Todmorden has found its niche as a commuter town, the vast majority of our wraparound parents working in Leeds, Manchester, Bradford and Burnley.

"The vast space we now have allows the staff to fully embrace the opportunity to create stimulating and exciting learning areas."

Kitchen facilities in Todmorden C of E Junior, Infant and Nursery School's Double Storey Eco Classroom

2. How has the new eco classroom impacted the way teachers at your Todmorden C of E Junior, Infants and Nursery school do their jobs?

"The new classrooms are light and airy and have made a great place for children to access activities and lessons throughout the day. The building provides a wonderfully positive environment to facilitate positive learning across the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) Curriculum. The designed outdoor space allows free flow access to outdoor provision, which children at Todmorden C.E. School just love. The EYFS teacher is thoroughly enjoying planning and resourcing this amazing new room."

Balcony on Todmorden C of E Junior, Infant and Nursery School's new Double Storey Eco Classroom

3. What are the best aspects of the new eco classroom?

"The building itself is a superb piece of craftsmanship. The architects Pullman Associates, Bridge Timber, Calderdale MBC, Substructure and Ultra Fabrications, along with Todmorden Cricket Club worked closely together to enable Todmorden C.E. School to demolish a single storey mobile unit, and erect the two-storey wooden eco building. The site could only be accessed via the adjoining cricket club and their full co-operation was vital to the success of the project.

"The build is all wood which blends into the woodland hillside surrounding our school. On completion the building is amazing, far better than anyone envisaged. Products used were of a high standard, the finished result is exactly as planned. Low level windows allow our children to look out onto pathways and field. The rooms are light and airy, there are no wires anywhere. We now have air con, low level sinks, and Jack and Jill type bathrooms.

"Designed to allow children of different ages and heights to access a breakfast bar, a brand-new kitchen has been fitted which transforms into a café style area for evening meals for older children. During the school day, small groups of children from school now use the kitchen as part of the national curriculum cooking in school programme.

"All lighting is low energy, there will be no major replacement costs i.e. windows, boiler etc for many years allowing peace of mind.

"The staff now work in a different more efficient way to compliment the spacious rooms."

Bridge Timber staff working on Todmorden C of E Junior, Infant and Nursery School's Double Storey Eco Classroom

4. Would you recommend Bridge Timber to other schools, if so why?

"We would have no hesitation in recommending Bridge Timber and their employees to any organisation.

"From start the finish, we had accurate costings, the timescale was realistic and the build was completed on time. As the project progressed some of our thoughts and needs changed and were incorporated into the design and build as required. Paul and Kerri were realistic, honest and extremely reliable. Always on hand to answer questions, Paul Charnley led the team by example manually working on the building ensuring compliance, timescales were kept and a quality product and finish was achieved.

"At the end of the build, Bridge Timber gifted a much-needed scorers hut to Todmorden Cricket Club, in recognition of their support to this project."

Click here to find out more about the Eco Classrooms Bridge Timber could design and install for your school.