Schools are an important feature of many neighbourhoods, but Bentham Community Primary School has been helping to forge stronger links between the High and Low sides of the town since it was built around five years ago.
It replaced two smaller schools and that has seen increased mixing between residents of both communities as children attend the same site, with a ‘future-proofed’ design that will allow it to expand as numbers of residents are anticipated to rise in the years ahead.
The building is an impressively modern structure with eco-credentials including solar panels – with a gauge in reception to monitor the power generated – and an energy-efficient green roof.
But it is ultimately the people who make the school and Bentham has a proud tradition of both pupils going out into the area where they live, as well as inviting the community in for both school events and to use the building for their own activities.
Those who attend the school adhere to a set of six key school values and they take those standards out into the community when taking part in events like the forthcoming Festival of Remembrance.
Children visit different venues to take part in community activities or perform and equally welcome other parts of the community into school.
Their bonds with society are strengthened through events like religious leaders taking assemblies and visits from PCSOs and the fire service to provide safety guidance and an introduction to the organisations pupils may encounter in later life.
Those too young for school are also introduced, with mother and toddler sessions due to re-start shortly, having been suspended because of the pandemic, like many activities.
Interim head teacher Tim Hiley said: “Getting children out is important to us, getting involved in local events like the Festival of Remembrance and the big Covid-19 ‘thank you’ event in the summer.
“We bring the community in. We do a lot of work with our local churches and it is an important part of our community, we regularly invite church leaders from all the churches in to lead assemblies.”
At Christmas, older residents are expected to be invited for children’s festive performances and the school has a purpose-built community room for activities like coffee mornings. That helps towards fulfilling the school’s function as a community ‘hub’, which is used for events like badminton and table tennis.
As well as encouraging all sections of society to view the school as part of their lives, it is also an opportunity to illustrate the work done by pupils, which is displayed and can be seen by visitors.