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Over the rainbow for eco building

The head of an ultra-modern primary in Cheshire cannot wait for the start of term, reports Jennifer Hawkins

Catriona Stewart is probably the only teacher on the planet who cannot wait for the summer holiday to be over.

She is eager to start the term in her new eco-friendly, ultra-modern primary school in Cheshire next week. "We are all so excited," she said.

'The children will love the building, it is beautiful."

Kingsmead primary, Northwich, is the first school of its kind in the UK.

The pound;1.8 million building is completely environmentally friendly.

Whereas most schools are built from metal girders and concrete, Kingsmead is constructed mainly of timber.

The boiler uses recycled woodchips for fuel. The school can collect rainwater and use it to flush lavatories and has solar panelling for heating. The building is so intelligent it can close windows when it rains, open them when the classroom is too stuffy and draw blinds against the glare of the sun.

But what excites Mrs Stewart the most is that the science behind it will be accessible to pupils.

They will see rainwater trickling through transparent pipes in the corridor. Laptops in the classroom will show how computers are controlling conditions inside the school.

The innovative construction is a joint venture by Cheshire council, architects White Design and construction firm Willmott Dixon.

Other features include natural lighting, timber flooring and CCTV to improve security and to watch wildlife in the grounds.

The seven teachers will wear lapel microphones in the classroom so they can be heard by those at the back.

Pupils will tend their own organic garden and the kitchen staff will use the produce when preparing school lunches.

Mrs Stewart's 14-year-old daughter, Migs, chose all the colours for the classrooms.

Mrs Stewart said: "The corridor is painted the same colour as each classroom. It looks like a rainbow if you stand at one end. It helps children to be independent and find classes by themselves.

"My daughter also designed the school logo. It is a butterfly but it is very sporty so the boys will like it. She is so lucky as she is seeing her design on the uniform, the school website and the sign outside."

Children can choose from a range of six different coloured polo-shirts, wearing a new colour each day if they wish.

The school staffroom has two sections, one room to work in and another for relaxation. Mrs Stewart said: "It means that you don't have to do your administration on the corner of a table, fighting for space where your colleague is eating a sandwich."

Ray Baker, school development officer for Cheshire council, said: "We are very excited about it. It is different to the schools we have built before in Cheshire."

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