COMMUNITIES in the Teign Valley near Exeter are set to celebrate the culmination of two special projects at Christow Community School next week.

A new classroom and solar panels to allow the school to generate its own energy will be unveiled at a celebration event on Thursday July 17.

The new facility includes a 30-place classroom for the school’s youngest pupils, a covered play area, and a link corridor joining the main school building with the previously separate Hedgemoor classroom.

It has A+ rated energy performance certification, providing a 140% improvement on a standard rebuild.

The new classroom replaces a 'temporary' wooden-clad classroom, erected more than 40 years ago.

Headteacher Clare Bamford said: “We are delighted with the new and improved Christow Community School and are looking forward to celebrating both projects with pupils, parents and the local community.

“Pupils are very excited about the new classroom. It’s a wonderful, modern space that gives the school greater flexibility in our work with the children.

“We have a clear approach to being more sustainable in our school, from pupils running the recycling scheme, to bat boxes outside. The solar panels will allow us to generate our own energy, save money and reduce the school’s carbon emissions.”

With digital displays in the school showing the amount of energy being generated and carbon being saved, the 10kWp set of panels will also allow the topic of sustainability to be taught in the classroom in new ways.

The solar panels, on the Hedgemoor classroom, are expected to generate 7.8 megawatt hours of electricity per year, saving over three tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

The school, rated good with above average and rising attainment in English and mathematics according to the most recent Ofsted report, will also see around £1200 cut from its annual energy bill.

Dominic Hollingsworth, chairman of governors, said: “The whole community came together to help make this project a reality and we’re delighted that today’s pupils – and children in the future – will be able to benefit from a much-improved school environment in the Teign Valley.

”We want to say a big thank you to everyone who has been involved, from the brilliant fundraising efforts of the PTFA, the contractors who’ve worked so well on site, to the Greener Teign group, who helped advise and support us every step of the way and most importantly, the many parents, people locally and businesses who donated and helped fundraise.”

The celebration kicks off at 3.30pm next Thursday and will include a barbecue, entertainment for children and the official unveiling of both projects.

The school is part of the Templer Academy Schools Trust. Funding followed a successful £220,000 bid by the trust to the Department for Education, as part of the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund.

The school was selected to take part in the Solar Schools project from carbon-cutting campaign 10:10. Training, resources and a webpage on the Solar Schools website were provided, to help crowd-fund, towards the cost of the solar panels with their community.

Alongside events and donations from individuals, contributions to the solar panels included £5,000 from the EDF Energy Green Fund and £5,000 from Devon County Council, through its Invest in Devon programme.

Amy Cameron, Solar Schools Campaign Manager, 10:10, said: "We're absolutely thrilled to see Christow with their panels up and running ready for the summer sun. The collective effort involved just demonstrates the huge local support for both a vibrant local school and a low carbon future.

“By involving pupils, parents and their community in the fundraising, the hard-working team at Christow have not only installed panels that will cut their carbon and save them money, but they've brought people together to so something they can be immensely proud of. Congratulations!"

Templer Academy Schools Trust is a partnership of four schools: Christow Community School, Coombeshead Academy, Rydon Primary School and Teign School in Kingsteignton.

MBS Build Ltd of Paignton has led on the building project.