Woolmore Primary to treble places in its new £10m school with rooftop view of Docklands

PUBLISHED: 09:57 02 April 2015 | UPDATED: 19:56 02 April 2015

What fun... more playground space at Woolmore Primary's new school [photos: Rehan Jamil]

What fun... more playground space at Woolmore Primary's new school [photos: Rehan Jamil]

Rehan Jamil

Work is under way for the second phase of expanding an old Docklands primary school to treble the number of places to help tackle the shortage in London’s East End with its rocketting population.

Fun learning in the new schoolFun learning in the new school

Contractors are tearing down the old Woolmore Primary first opened almost 100 years ago next to the Blackwall Tunnel entrance, to make way for a nature garden and sports area with a running track, while its pupils have started lessons in their new school just finished next door.

The controversial £10 million scheme is part of Poplar’s massive Blackwall Reach regeneration replacing the run-down Robin Hood estate.

Woolmore Primary School and [inset] head teacher Tracy ArgentWoolmore Primary School and [inset] head teacher Tracy Argent

The children moved in to their new surroundings at the end of February, with a roof terrace, library, art studio, a nursery on-site and way more playground space. There are also plans for a permanent museum and archive display.

“It’s motivating and inspiring to work in a new, purpose-built school,” Woolmore’s headteacher Tracy Argent said.

Its fun learning in Woolmore's new nursery classIts fun learning in Woolmore's new nursery class

“It has a happy feel to it—like a big treat that can grow and we can explore.”

The old building just off the main A13 East India Dock Road is being torn down to make way for landscaping and outdoor areas such as a nature garden, woodlands area with room for cooking and gardening and a sports area with its own running track. The work is scheduled to be completed by July.

Learning in her new classroomLearning in her new classroom

The children were exited moving into the new complex which gives them a good view of Docklands and the surrounding East End neighbourhood.

Assel Foa, aged seven, pointed out: “The roof terrace is great—it’s a lovely view. We’ve got more space to do creative stuff.”

Healthy eating in the new dining hallHealthy eating in the new dining hall

Maria Haque, aged eight, really loves the architecture.

She said: “It’s really colourful and we have more space to move around. We didn’t have that much space in the old school.”

Please miss... I know the answerPlease miss... I know the answer

Preservation enthusiasts from the East End Waterways Group campaigned to save the old Woolmore building opened in 1916 when the Blackwall Reach redevelopment plans first emerged in 2007. But in the end, parents and families on the much-criticised Robin Hood estate voted for change and backed the £300m rejuvenation scheme for the area.

The new Woolmore Primary has enough room to increase its 240 places to 700 eventually, helping fill the gap in the East End’s chronic shortage with its growing population.

Another 8,000 more primary school-age pupils are predicted in the next 10 years.

But the education authority has a programme to cope with the growing numbers. Recent primary school expansions include Bethnal Green’s Bonner, Stepney’s Cayley and Mile End’s Stebon. There are also plans to expand Olga Primary near Victoria Park next year.

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