A New Malden primary school once deemed unsafe has re-opened after children spent a year and two terms in temporary classrooms as the new building was built.
Children at Christ Church New Malden Junior School have now spent the past few weeks settling into their new state-of-the-art site in Elm Road, which opened eight months after it was scheduled to.
Headteacher Tabitha White said: “We had to apply for planning permission for the new building and get the building demolished so actually everybody has worked really hard to get it made as quickly as possible.
“Normally people would have more warning to build a new school building – but we had to do it very quickly because we discovered the old building was not fit for purpose. I think people were always nervous about the amount of time it would take.
“During a period of austerity it was a challenge to make a new building. But it is now beyond our expectations.”
In September 2012, children at Christ Church New Malden Junior School were forced to move from their building in Elm Road to seven temporary classrooms on playing fields behind Mount Road after an inspection the year before found the building dangerous.
Wooden support beams were severely affected by damp, forcing the school to close for a week in November 2011.
The Church of England school received a £2.1m grant from the Government’s Education Funding Agency and the council agreed a loan of up to £350,000, but more money was needed.
Miss White said: “We are going to have to repay over time, but we don’t know exactly how much yet. It was a challenge to find the money and we will have to repay some.”
She added parents had been brilliant with fundraising and the latest fun run and sponsored bounce had raised £4,500 for the refurbished playground earlier this year.
She said: “What we didn’t want was a lovely new building and a disappointing playground – so we are very pleased.”
The school had previously feared a shortfall in funding would mean children would miss out on a library and a music room, but Miss White confirmed this had not been the case and said children had also gained a creative zone.
The school will now continue with its two forms of entry and has no plans to expand.