EAST Lancashire children have been busy packing pencils in their brand new pencil cases in eager anticipation of the new school term – but it is doubtful that any other children were quite as excited as the pupils of Nelson’s Whitefield Infant School and Nursery this week.

Yesterday, pupils and staff settled into their new building in Every Street for the first time.


The £7million development has been a long time coming to the school that has been suffering with overcrowding issues for more than 20 years.

Gone are the ‘temporary’ portable classrooms that surrounded the old site in Norfolk Street and instead, all 360 children are reading, learning and playing in bright, airy classrooms bathed in natural light.

Each classroom has a door that opens directly on to the outdoor play area complete with adventure playground, sports pitch and sheltered wooden outdoor classroom – there’s even a circular outdoor theatre for school productions.

Natural materials have been collected for children to play, build and learn and throughout the entire building there is a distinctly ‘outdoor’ feel.

Headteacher Ethna Cummins said: “We took inspiration from the Reggio schools in Italy which are all about representing the specific needs of a community and using the environment to learn.

“There’s so much space now for the children to learn outside and to use the surroundings.”

The building is impressive, but it is the library that is it’s defining feature – the entrance has been painted by artist Steve Hutton to look like a gigantic bookshelf, depicting the spine of children’s favourite books and inside, there are eccentrically shaped, futuristic looking seats and chairs.

The outside of the building blends seamlessly with the surroundings of Every Street as the sandstone-coloured school building stretches into a series of triangular pointed roofs, mirroring the terraced houses nearby.

At the end of the first school day, children, pupils and parents were full of laughter and smiles – the only tears were those of a young boy who didn’t want to leave.

Acting headteacher Erica Mason said: “Today really has been a day of awe and wonder for staff, children and parents and all of us are thrilled to bits.

“We have the most amazing building and grounds. It’s a space beyond our wildest dreams.

”We are so excited and so proud to be here. This school really represents us and our ethos and I think everyone will be very happy here.”