MP Rishi Sunak took part in a special ground-breaking ceremony at the site of a new multi-million pound primary school in Northallerton. Mr Sunak, who is the MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire, joined the milestone occasion which signalled the start of construction at the Alvertune Road site.
Also in attendance were representatives from North Yorkshire Council, the Dales Academies Trust and the contractors, Hobson & Porter. The school, which academy leaders have promised will be a “flagship of excellence”, will be run by the Dales Academies Trust and will be based in the northern part of Northallerton, where a major new housing development is being built.
The Dales Academies Trust was selected as the sponsor for the school following a competitive process, which attracted interest from several trusts. The trust has announced the new educational establishment will be called Oakbridge Church of England Primary School and will begin welcoming its first pupils in September next year.
The 2024 opening date gives certainty to the availability of school places in a part of North Yorkshire where housing growth is expected to increase the population. A phased opening will start with reception children in 2024, expanding to the full cohort over seven years.
North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said: “We were delighted to welcome the MP for Richmond Rishi Sunak and are so pleased that work has begun at the new school site.
“This demonstrates the council’s commitment to making sure there are the right number of school places, which allows children to be educated in their local communities.
“We continue to provide children and young people across North Yorkshire with the best learning environments, enabling all our leaners to thrive. We believe Oakbridge Church of England Primary School is going to be a tremendous asset for the community.”
Speaking about his visit, Mr Sunak said:
“It was great to see work under way on a very important multi-million-pound investment in education in Northallerton.
“This is a vital element of the North Northallerton development project, part of making sure the new housing has the appropriate infrastructure in place to support the families that will be moving here.”
The school’s location is close to the new link road which spans the site earmarked for housing, ensuring access for pupils, staff and other members of the public is convenient.
Nikkie Godbold, director of primary for Dales Academies Trust and executive headteacher of the new school, said:
“We considered at length the naming of the school. Ultimately, we were inspired by an oak tree in the vicinity of the development and the new bridge at the other end of the road on which the school is situated.”
Richard Hunter, managing director at Hobson & Porter, which has been awarded the contract to build the school, said:
“Starting work on this new school is an exciting moment for everyone involved with this project.
“There’s no doubt that once it’s complete, this school will become a hugely valuable part of the local community.”
The site was acquired through a planning condition agreed with a housebuilder developing land nearby and Oakbridge Primary itself will account for investment of more than £7 million when complete.
During his visit, the Prime Minister also took time out to see North Yorkshire Council’s Multiply team in action. A series of ‘fun on a budget’ workshops were held for families at the campus in Northallerton.
Free activities were held to help with budgeting tips, ideas for free days out and how to enjoy the summer holidays with children while sticking to a budget.
The Multiply scheme is an adult numeracy programme which has been allocated £2.6 million to be spent in North Yorkshire through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund up to March 2025. The overall objective of the Multiply programme is to increase the levels of numeracy for adults across the country.
Meanwhile, the Multiply team works with community groups and individuals aged 19 and over who would like to feel more confident with maths in everyday life.