All aboard

15th July 2005 at 01:00
In New Tredegar they did not wait for Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Education, to invent extended schools. At White Rose primary, a 375-pupil school in one of the most deprived areas of Wales, a wraparound curriculum is already being offered.

The school opened in September as the centrepiece of an pound;18.5 million regeneration initiative for the village, a former mining community. It has a breakfast club offering free meals and an after-school club, extending the school day from 8am to 5.30pm. The state-of-the-art facilities include a separate community wing for people of all ages. There's a library, resource centre and an integrated children's centre.

Parents pay pound;3 to leave their three to four-year-olds from 1pm to 3.30pm. The children's centre has a maximum capacity of 24 and is already oversubscribed. Headteacher Richard Zecca says that for September there is already "quite a hefty demand". He adds: "The school is seen as a beacon.

We have had visitors from all over the world. I had a lady from Kiev who wanted me to go over to assist them with community schools out there."

His delight at the new facilities is all the greater after the struggle to get to this stage. Over the past 20 years, proposals had been put forward to merge primaries in an effort to cut surplus places, but plans were resisted by parents. The new school amalgamates three old schools: Elliot Town, Cwmsyfiog and Tirphil.

When the new school was opened, Gerald Jones, deputy leader of the council and local ward member, said he was delighted at the new look. He said that the future now looked bright for the village which was undergoing "a major transformation" following the serious social and economic decline of the past few decades.

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