New sustainable Junior School building opens and welcomes girls
Pupils and staff celebrated the opening of our new state-of-the-art Junior School yesterday. Girls were welcomed by Junior School Head Ms Kate Bevan, who cut a ribbon, before walking through an arch of biodegradable paper flowers and leaves and entering the recently completed building for the first time.
With sustainability at its heart, the carbon-neutral development is groundbreaking in terms of how it will provide inside/outside learning opportunities in an eco-friendly building. The fully-accessible site includes 14 new classrooms, with additional Sixth Form classrooms, specialist teaching spaces for music, art, science and computing, a light-filled library with rooftop lantern, and a hall with tiered performance seating.
With a science garden, forest school area, dedicated play area for Reception pupils and an additional playground for other year groups, the outside space is integral to making learning a hands-on experience.
NHEHS Junior School Head Kate Bevan says: “Experiential learning is central to our ethos, encouraging students to see, touch, feel, interact, and take their education off the page or screen. At NHEHS, our approach is not just about cultivating students; it’s about fostering well-rounded global citizens. And thanks to our new state-of-the-art building, we have the perfect home in which to support our girls’ passion for the environment.
“The construction and design choices reflect the values we instil in our students, fostering a deep respect for the planet and a commitment to being part of the solution to the world’s challenges,” continues Ms Bevan. “With its environmentally-friendly features, the building not only serves as an inspiring learning environment but as a physical embodiment of the lasting impact our girls can make in the realm of sustainability.”
The building has a sustainable wooden frame, south-facing photovoltaic panels on the saw tooth roof to catch the most sunlight and supply electricity, north-facing roof lights for daylight with limited solar gain, a highly insulated and airtight building fabric, air source heat pumps and a heat recovery system to keep the warmth in the building while allowing fresh air in, and noise-reducing woodwool acoustic insulation inside.
GDST Chief Executive Cheryl Giovannoni comments: “I would like to thank everyone involved in the construction of this new Junior School for their hard work and dedication. I am certain that this building will provide inspiring learning environments for our girls to build their own foundations to become changemakers of the future, and create a more equal world for all. Our investment in this space is testament to the GDST’s unwavering commitment to girls’ education, and the forward-looking ways in which we are fulfilling our mission to help girls to learn without limits, so that they can go on to lead lives without limits.”
Pupils have been involved in the project from beginning to end as part of the school’s commitment to practising what it preaches. Junior pupils have learnt about its sustainable elements, had tours of the building site as it’s progressed, and participated in a workshop with the architects to learn about engineering and building design, and come up with their own ideas for interior layouts.
A new sustainable ethos permeates throughout school life – running through the academic curriculum, PSHCE, co-curricular clubs, enrichment and charity initiatives. This framework has been brought to life by the recently appointed whole school Environmental and Sustainability Coordinator Mrs Cassar. With a host of sustainable activities planned this year, including a school-wide Conference of the Parties (COP) style eco event and a Green Careers Conference in partnership with other local schools, the future is green for NHEHS girls.