PUPILS in Cowley are happily ensconced in four new classrooms after five years of temporary classrooms at their school.

St Christopher’s CE Primary School officially opened its new building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by children’s illustrator and Summertown resident Korky Paul.

The Orchard Building now holds four classes of Year 2 and 3 children.

The six to eight-year-olds were previously taught in temporary classrooms.

The school also has a new kitchen so it can provide the hot lunches required under the Government’s free school meals scheme for infants aged four to seven.

Following the official opening, acting headteacher Sheenagh Broadbent said: “We’ve got a new building with four brand new classrooms.

“The classes are lovely and spacious with plenty of natural light and the added luxury of underfloor heating.

“There’s also a brand new kitchen built for us. We’ve never cooked our own meals here and this has come at exactly the right time because of the new infant meal rules – it’s brilliant.”

Fatima Ali, eight, said: “I like my new classroom because it has underfloor heating and an interactive whiteboard. We didn’t have that before.”

Cowley resident Iram Hussain added: “Since we moved into the new classroom, we have got lots of new resources to help our learning.”

Eight-year-old Sameeya Khan said: “Our work can be displayed and there is lots of space in the cloakroom.”

Mrs Broadbent said: “I’m just glad the horrible temporary buildings have been removed.”

The school needed to expand after Oxfordshire County Council increased its entrance level in 2012 so there were 60 children a year instead of 45. It now has 424 pupils aged three to 11.

Despite the school getting planning permission to expand in December 2012, work did not begin on the new building until last year.

Mrs Broadbent added: “It’s taken quite a while to happen.

“The actual building work started in February 2014 but it had been in the planning stages for years.”

Council spokesman Owen Morton said: “Work at St Christopher’s took longer than anticipated as a result of project design delays and access issues which arose during construction.

“As such a temporary classroom was utilised to ensure additional places were available at the school from September 2014.”

Between 2015-18, the council identified 20 schools to expand across the county using Government money.

The Department for Education announced in February the council would get £19m for the expansion of schools to ease the pressure on places.

But the cash is not available until 2017/18 and the council has had to take £14m from its maintenance budget to pay for increasing school places.

Mr Morton said this meant there were no delays in the expansion scheme. He said: “The Government funding shortfall hasn’t actually caused delays to school expansion projects.

“In an ideal world we would obviously not be having to plug this funding gap over the next two years, but the council has an obligation to ensure sufficient school places for Oxfordshire children and that must remain our highest priority.”