WORK has stared on Somerset’s first carbon net zero school with a timber framing ceremony after land at the Orchard Grove housing development in Taunton was handed from the Orchard Grove Consortium to Somerset Council.

Orchard Grove Primary School is expected to welcome staff and pupils from September 2024.

Sponsored by Castle Partnership Trust, it will cater for 420 pupils and 52 nursery children, and feature three sports pitches, a production kitchen and a library.

The design allows for an extension to accommodate 210 further children in the future.

Funded by Somerset Council as part of its School Growth Programme, the £12.3million build will incorporate solar panels, air source heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points.

READ MORE: Progress on Orchard Grove development.

Cllr Tessa Munt, executive lead member for children, families and education, said: “We are creating a modern learning environment for Orchard Grove Primary’s future pupils, where they will be supported to thrive and achieve.

“Our environmentally-friendly building shows our young people we are committed to their academic achievement, personal development and futures beyond the realms of education as we seek to mitigate and control our impact on the environment.”

Cllr Dixie Darch, executive lead member for climate change and the environment, said: “The energy efficiency of the building will allow for cost savings which can be channelled back into educational resources.

"There will be more like this to come as the council delivers against its Climate Emergency Strategy."

Emma Colin, regional managing director of Vistry Western, part of the Orchard Grove Consortium, said: “A green, sustainable, high-quality facility like this is such an exciting addition and we know countless families will benefit from it in the many years to come."

Orchard Grove headteacher Richard Healey, said: “The school will centre itself firmly in the heart of its local community by ensuring pupils have a clear sense of what makes a good citizen.

"Pupils will have a strong sense of themselves in the local, national and global context and of the responsibility they have to others, in the present and in the future.

"Orchard Grove will create an environment where children, staff and the community can build a positive and progressive school culture around sustainability and education.

"Within the setting of Somerset’s first net zero carbon school, children will be inspired by a unique curriculum that is preparing them for lifelong learning and a positive impact in the world.”

From this term, Orchard Grove children are attending Isambard Kingdom Brunel School, in Wellington.