RESIDENTS and councillors have been given a sneak-peek inside Oxfordshire's newest primary school.

The GEMS Wantage Primary Academy is due to open in September 2020, with capacity for up to 420 pupils as well as 26 full-time nursery places.

The school is part of the Kingsgrove housing estate which is being built on the eastern fringe of Wantage and will consist of more than 1,500 homes, alongside shops, a pub, a park and communal areas when it is finished.

Oxford Mail:

The school will have a capacity of 420 pupils. Picture: Ed Nix

At a visit to the site on Tuesday, the developer behind the Kingsgrove estate, St Modwen, was praised for starting work on the school at the same time as the homes.

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Lib dem district councillor for Wantage Andrew Crawford said: “The important thing is the developer did not contractually have to build the school until 750 houses were built and occupied.

“Obviously there is a cost to them, but I think it is great for the community that they are doing that.

“Exisiting schools are full and to have another school opening next September is brilliant.”

Other visitors included town councillors, church groups and residents, who were taken around the site on a coach.

At the site of the school, Jodie Croft, CEO of GEMS Learning Trust, was presented with a memorial plaque with the name of the school which will be installed at the entrance once the building is complete.

Oxford Mail:

Jodie Croft, CEO of GEMS Learning Trust, and Harford Smith, Crab Hill Developments Limited with the oak tree. Picture: Will Slater.

Ms Croft said the school would open with a nursery class, a reception class, Year 1 and Year 2.

The school has set an admission number for its first year of 26 full-time nursery pupils, 15 reception pupils and five pupils each in Years 1 and 2.

The primary will be two-form admission once more pupils join.

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GEMS Learning Trust currently runs two primary schools, in Didcot and Twickenham.

Rob Draper, development director of the Kingsgrove Estate, said the school was meant to be part of a new community.

He said: “It is a really important part of the overall development we are creating. There is a £95 million investment in the land – it’s not house building, but community building.”

Oxford Mail:

Construction work at the site of the new school. Picture: Ed Nix

Joe Roberts, architect and director at Roberts Limbrick, said the design of the school will feature modern facilities, with glass, timber, red brick and pitched roofs.

Harford Smith of Crab Hill Developments Limited, whose family had farmed the 227-acre Kingsgrove site for generations, presented the new school with a 6ft oak tree to replace one removed during construction work.

Another oak tree planted by one of Mr Smith’s ancestors has been integrated into the plans for the site.