Fresh face gives students a lift

8th June 2001 at 01:00
Purple walls and Laura Ashley borders ... Jo Hurst and Alison Brace visit an infant school which has had an in-house makeover which even BBC TV designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen would be proud of.

LAURENCE Llewelyn-Bowen and Anna Ryder Richardson eat your hearts out. Who needs the services of the BBC's two leading design gurus for a makeover when you've got an inspired headteacher and an army of creative parents, pupils and teachers?

Simon Griffiths decided to give Heathfield infants in Tamworth, Staffordshire the Changing Rooms treatment when he took over as head after Easter this year. Even before he took up the post, he was banging on the doors of local businesses asking for donations ranging from pots of paint and brushes to masking tape and wallpaper borders. Anything and everything - including a few kitchen sinks.

Mr Griffiths said: "I took the post because it was a cracking little school with great pupils and staff. I wanted to make an impact - I wanted to say this is a new head and this is what he believes in.

"The building itself was very run-down. So, after finding that there was no money to do it up, I thought about approaching businesses in our community for help."

They did not let him down. Companies such as Do-It-All, Homebase, Laura Ashley, McLeans Homes, Persimmon Homes and DAS, a multi-national public relations company, donated supplies to the school, so far saving the school around pound;10,000. In rturn, they will be included in the school's prospectus.

But as any aspiring Linda Barker will know, having the paint kit is one thing. Getting it on the walls and making it look good is quite another.

This is where parents, teachers, governors and even pupils have been showing their flair for decorating and design. The DIY designers have worked at weekends to give the school the facelift it so desperately needed.

The school's entrances have purple walls with lime green furnishings and the corridors are purple and sunflower yellow. Pupils have chosen Laura Ashley borders for the toilets.

And the effect on students? "The expression on the children's faces as they come in and say 'Wow, look at that', says it all," says Mr Griffiths.

"If there is a clean, fresh and exciting environment, you work more productively. They are taking a lot of care and a lot of pride in their new environment."

Builders are currently in the 250-pupil school creating an information and communications technology suite and library, to be called The Learning Zone, and a local company has provided pound;4,000 worth of blinds for the school at the cost price of pound;1,500.

But if the Changing Rooms' team feels it has been done out of a job, there is still time for their colleagues at Groundforce to pitch in for the next project. The DIY brigade is on a roll and next they intend to tackle the outside of the school and the playground.

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