Bishop performs traditional ‘topping-out’ ceremony for new Kettering school

Topping out ceremony at Kettering East primary school site, including (L-R) headteacher Craig Charteris, GSSArchitecture partner Ian Bray, Watson & Cox Ltd director Bill Gardiner, Watson & Cox Ltd senior project manager Matt Cooper, Rev John Holbrook, GSSArchitecture partner Tom Lyons, Alledge Brook LLP development director Alan Wordie, Peterborough Diocese deputy director of education Peter Goringe, and NCC Councillor Matt Golby
Topping out ceremony at Kettering East primary school site, including (L-R) headteacher Craig Charteris, GSSArchitecture partner Ian Bray, Watson & Cox Ltd director Bill Gardiner, Watson & Cox Ltd senior project manager Matt Cooper, Rev John Holbrook, GSSArchitecture partner Tom Lyons, Alledge Brook LLP development director Alan Wordie, Peterborough Diocese deputy director of education Peter Goringe, and NCC Councillor Matt Golby
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The Bishop of Brixworth the Rev John Holbrook did the honours of performing a ‘topping-out’ ceremony for the construction of a Kettering primary school, due to open in September.

The multi-million-pound Church of England school will be the first building to be completed as part of the Kettering East development.

We are not just creating a school here, but a community of the people who will eventually live on this development.

The Rev John Holbrook, Bishop of Brixworth

At a ‘topping-out’ ceremony on the site off Cranford Road on Friday, June 5 – a Scandinavian tradition involving placing a tree at the highest point of a new building to appease tree-dwelling spirits disturbed in its construction – the bishop gave thanks to everyone involved in the project.

He said: “Bishops get asked to do all kinds of odd things.

“Over the past few months I have met both the Pope and Prince Charles but, for me, this has been the most exciting.

“I want to thank all the people here who have been involved.

“It just goes to show the power of partnership: you made your promise and you are delivering.

“We are not just creating a school here, but a community of the people who will eventually live on this development.”

The school, which has cost a total of £4.5m and will include touchscreen televisions in classrooms, an open-plan library, solar panelling and a large hall for use by both the school and community groups, will open to 90 children in reception and lower years in September this year.

As more houses are built, the school aims to fill 420 places.

Its construction involved a collaboration between Northamptonshire County Council, Kettering Council, Alledge Brook LLP, GSS Architecture, Watson and Cox Ltd, the Peterorough Church of England Diocese, which will operate the school itself, and its prospective headteacher Craig Charteris.

During the ceremony executives from all the groups climbed to the top of the building to attach a tree branch to some scaffolding.

Northamptonshire cabinet member for learning and education Matt Golby said: “There will be lots of houses built here and this school will anchor them from the beginning.

“It’s really important that we have a good new school as it will be laying the foundation of the community – in the same way that villages used to do it 100 years ago.

“We hope that an excellent new school will set a time for the rest of the development, and show that we are trying to build a whole community, not just a faceless housing extension.

“Furthermore, we are keen to make all new schools in Northamptonshire excellent schools.”

Project manager for developers Watson and Cox Matt Coooper said: “It’s very rare that you get a good, positive imput from everyone involved at every stage of a project like this, but everyone has pulled together as a team and we all have a good relationship.

“We looked around other local schools to get ideas of what would and wouldn’t work – where the teaching wall should be in the classroom, for example – so we were able to get positive feedback at a very early stage.”

Tom Lyons, partner of quantity surveyors GSSArchitecture, added: “The topping-out ceremony of the new primary school is an exciting milestone in its development.

“After all the design consultation and building work, it is the point in the project when everyone involved can start to see the building taking shape and to get a real feel for its quality and look, both internally and externally.”