Micheldever Church of England Primary School provides high quality primary education to some eighty children from a wide area of Hampshire between Winchester and Basingstoke, including Micheldever, Micheldever Station, East and West Stratton, Woodmancote and Popham. The school has an historic Victorian school building housing the library, school offices and kitchens, but most of the teaching takes place in four "temporary" classrooms. The first two of these prefabricated classrooms were installed just over fifty years ago with the second pair being added in the 1980s. They were intended to last for some five to ten years, and inevitably they are now in very poor condition. After a long campaign mounted by the school, Hampshire Local Education Authority has agreed to fund their replacement in 2006.
Discussions with the LEA revealed, however, that funding would not be available to build a modern hall, which is also urgently needed by the school. The school has insufficient space to teach PE, and the children have to make a time wasting and potentially dangerous trip to and from the village hall, a distance some 400 yards through the village. Following a recent Ofsted inspection, the otherwise good report states that:
"Accommodation at the school is poor and is a significant barrier to learning in ICT and physical education specifically. … It also detracts from the efficient use of time because of the need to walk to and from … physical education lessons. The school hall is too small for gymnastics and pupils are required to walk along a narrow road with no pavement to the local village hall for their lessons. This is a safety hazard. The school is acutely aware of this and makes arrangements to ensure the safest conditions in the circumstances. Whilst all staff make the most of the situation, the current arrangements remain unsatisfactory."
In light of this critical shortcoming, and the reluctance of the LEA to fully fund a new hall, local residents and parents resolved to raise the necessary funds, and the Trust was established.
During January 2005, following further discussions, the LEA agreed to include a hall in the building project, and made additional funds available. The revised plans also include full refurbishment of the listed Victorian School building and the provision of a new Library, entrance hall and offices as well as the previously promised classrooms. The new hall will also be made available to local community groups, and this has been fully taken into account in the design.
This was excellent news for the school and for the local community. However, as part of the agreement with the LEA, it was agreed that the school and community would raise £50,000 to part-fund the additional buildings, before building commences in early 2006. In addition, the school has estimated that it would require an additional £25,000 to fully equip the new buildings, and to provide the facilities required to allow full use of the hall as both a school and a community facility. This total of £75,000 forms the initial funding target for the Micheldever School Development Trust.
Micheldever School Development Trust
Following informal discussions amongst local residents and parents, the Trust was established in late 2004. An open invitation to take part was issued to the community, and an organising committee was selected from those who volunteered. The committee draws on a wide range of skills, experience and backgrounds selected to match the considerable fund raising challenges, including project management, finance, publicity and marketing. The committee members also have a wide variety of contacts in the local community, including the school, church and other local organisations and charities. This committee formed the initial trustees. They are supported by a representative from a major and highly successful local charity, who is bringing valuable lessons from his experience over recent years.
The Trust's aim (as stated in the objects in the application for charitable status) are:
"to advance the education of the pupils at Micheldever C of E Primary School by providing and assisting in the provision of facilities for education at the School"
The Trust is working closely with the School's Governors; the Chair of Governors and one other Governor are included among the initial Trustees. The Trust will also work closely with the existing Parents and Friends Association (PFA); a number of the trustees are PFA committee members.
The principal short term objectives of the Trust will be:
To raise the necessary funds to enable the modernisation of the school which will meet the educational needs of the pupils, as part of the wider LEA development project for the school (£50,000),
To raise funds to allow the hall and the new classrooms to be suitably equipped (£25,000).
These initial aims have now been achieved, and the Trust is turning its attention to the longer term needs of the school. The Trust will continue to work closely with the the PFA, who will target their fund-raising at supporting routine activities in the school, and any further specific projects.