A day in the life of Styal primary school, Wilmslow, Cheshire

16th February 2001 at 00:00
Set in 250 acres of woodland and national park, this is the only school owned by the National Trust. So when it needed two new classrooms, they had to be built of environmentally friendly oak. For the opening, the school invited independent MP Martin Bell to cut the ribbon. Headteacher Sally Heap says: "The children sang a welcoming song and Martin Bell spoke to them all and stayed for lunch. There was a real party atmosphere." The new classrooms were built after an Ofsted report said the school was too crowded for the 91 pupils and needed a hall for PE. During the building work, staff discovered an original fireplace. "It's huge, made of cast iron with a surround of stone and wood," says Miss Heap. The school was built in 1823 by Samuel Gregg, a mill owner who wanted to improve the lot of his apprentices. They went to the school afte doing a day's work at the mill, having been up since 6am. The mill still stands as a working museum . The school's most famous ex-pupil is the Archbishop of Canterbury's former envoy Terry Waite, whose father was a policeman in the area.

Snaps by Chris Thomond

Face the past: Sarah Robinson, Year 4, with a history and art display

High notes: rehearsing the welcoming song

Mill village: workers' cottages, with the school on the end. Martin Bell can just be seen in his trademark white suit

Grounds force: break time, with the original school in the background

Red tape: Martin Bell cuts the ribbon with, from left, Jamie Andrews, Thomas Barker and Jack Holmes

Tree house: one of the new oak classrooms

We're on telly:waiting for the opening ceremony

VIPs: Martin Bell and head Sally Heap


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