Eight years in its design, planning and funding, the new school has replaced the cramped and draughty buildings previously used by the teachers and will accommodate 205 pupils.

The £5.5m primary school was delivered by the Schools Funding Agency, as part of the Priority Schools Building Programme. The new one form entry school replaces the previous main building dating back to 1604, and King James I, in the centre of the Benenden village. Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the greenfield site is adjacent to the village hall and recreation ground.

Designed in a horseshoe shape, the building has a biodiverse, wildflower green roof to reduce the ecological and visual impact of the development and enhance its environmental performance. The teaching accommodation is centred around a courtyard that accommodates a playground at the heart of the school.

Untreated larch cladding has been used on the outside of the building to give the feel of a Kentish barn with a plain clay tiled roof for the hall.

The new school was opened by the Bishop of Dover, the Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, in her first official engagement since being consecrated. She was joined by Headteacher Lindsay Roberts and the project team, including Stuart Bonnage from Clague Architects.

Headteacher Lindsay Roberts said: “The children say what they most like about the new building is all being together as one.

“In the old school, reception was in a different building, they had to do PE at the village hall, science at the memorial hall and collective worship at the church. Now they feel part of one family.”

Stuart Bonnage, Partner at Clague Architects, added: “It is fantastic to see our design come to fruition and bring together the disparate accommodation into one building and stop the loss of valuable teaching time.

“Our design gives the school hall the appearance of a Kentish Barn to ensure the building sits well within the natural environment and its landscape.”

An area has been given over to a wildflower meadow with public access via the two Public Rights of Way that cross the school’s site.

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