Whitfield Primary gets the go ahead for new pre-school building

Jun 7, 2017

Year 1 children hold up plans for the new pre-school which has received planning permissionWork is set to start on the construction of a new pre-school building at Whitfield CE Primary, soon to be a member of the Diocese of Carlisle’s Multi Academy Trust.

It is hoped the building will be open by the start of the new school year in September, after planners approved the scheme to house a nursery and extend the existing car park.

It comes as staff, governors and The Good Shepherd Multi Academy Trust continue to work on a business plan for the new nursery, identified as key to the successful growth of the school in years to come.

Chair of Governors Amanda Stembridge said: “This is fantastic news, and forms just one element of our expansion over the coming months. This new space will be beautiful and well equipped for our nursery provision. It will connect physically and imaginatively with our other proposed new build, the outdoor learning space.”

Preliminary construction of the building, which is designed by Alston-based architects Countryside Consultants, will begin at the beginning of July, ready for full works to commence on the first day of the school holidays.

Meanwhile a new Head of School has been appointed as Whitfield Primary completes its conversion to academy status. That follows confirmation by the Trust that following a process of due diligence, the Voluntary Aided school, near Hexham, would become its newest member.

Katherine Ayre, an Early Years specialist from Buckinghamshire, will take up the role in September, bringing a background of creativity, imagination and exceptional teaching to the school. Coming from the position of Head of Early Years at a school which worked with a large proportion of children with special educational needs, she is passionate about inclusive approaches, visual learning and creativity in the classroom and outdoors.

Mrs Ayre commented : “I am thrilled to have been appointed as Head of School at Whitfield C of E Primary School. I am looking forward to developing a community school that works with its stunning environment to deliver a curriculum set on excellence yet full of creativity.

“I bring with me specialisms in Early Years and Inclusion and I have leadership experience from two very different Primary schools. I also worked with Traveller children in rural primary schools in Gloucestershire and my first job was in a school very similar to Whitfield. My own children attended a rural primary school too, so I understand the importance of the small school family and all that encompasses. I am very much looking forward to starting in September."

Michael Mill, Chief Executive, of The Good Shepherd MAT said: “We are really looking forward to developing a whole new approach to the early years curriculum at Whitfield School with the experience, expertise and imagination of Katherine. She has a really fun attitude to learning which suits our vision down to the ground.”

The change of leadership structure to Executive Head and Head of School signals an end to the Acting Headship of Erica Carter, on long-term secondment from Ponteland Primary School.

Amanda Stembridge said: “The success of Whitfield School’s turnaround after two poor Ofsted inspections into a school with a very bright future is in part due to the incredible, sustained effort and belief of Erica Carter, for which the whole community feel enormous gratitude.”

A fundraiser in aid of the pre-school has been organised by Whitfield WI, at the Elk’s Head Pub on Friday 9th June, from 7.30pm, to which all are welcome. Tickets cost £2 and include a domino drive, raffle and prizes with a light supper.


Contact – if anyone is interested in finding out about the pre-school plans for their child, please direct interest to Claire Render at The Good Shepherd Multi Academy Trust on office@wreay.cumbria.sch.uk or through the Whitfield school office on 01434 345267.


For further information please contact Christo@filmbee.co.uk or Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.

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