Staff and parents were joined by Councillor Stephen Reid, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education and Skills, Human Resources and Performance, and the Right Reverend Jonathan Frost, the Bishop of Southampton, for a ribbon cutting ceremony at The Camino, a new building named after the famous Christian pilgrimage route, also known as “The Way of Saint James”.
The Mayor of Eastleigh, Councillor Bruce Tennent, planted an olive tree as a symbol of peace and hope, and keeping to this theme, the opening ceremony concluded with the release of a flock of doves.
Commenting on the school’s expansion, Councillor Reid said:
“It is our priority to be able to offer places at good quality schools for every Hampshire child, so it is wonderful to witness the opening of such an important extension which will enable more children to attend this popular school.
“This project is part of our programme to provide 17,500 new places at Hampshire schools by 2021, with a total planned investment of around £140 million. I am very pleased that the County Council is on track to meet the rising demand for extra school places with our sustainable, value-for-money building programme.”
Michelle Marsh, Headteacher at Saint James West End, said:
“I am so excited about this new building and for the school to begin serving even more local children than ever. At Saint James’s we are constantly striving to be the best and to help our children become happy and successful in all that they do. This is an exciting new chapter for the school and its pupils and I look forward to the bright future ahead.”
The Rt. Revd. Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton, said:
“This new building is absolutely fabulous, and it was a pleasure to visit the school and to see the delight on the faces of the pupils as they saw the new building being opened. Underpinned by a Christian ethos, Saint James’ West End has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, delivering an excellent standard of education to the pupils and communities that it serves. Staff and pupils here are rightly excited about the future and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them and schools across the Diocese of Winchester.”
The school extension, which cost £3.5 million, will increase the school’s capacity from 420 to 630 pupils. It was designed and managed by the County Council’s own Property Services team which specialises in school buildings. It comprises seven classrooms connected by a canopy to the existing buildings, a new second performance space, refurbished toilet and reception facilities and extensive landscape works.