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School’s £200,000 extension to tackle nursery place shortage welcomed by MP

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss visiting Norwich Road Academy's nursery in Thetford. Picture: FIONA WALKER

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss visiting Norwich Road Academy's nursery in Thetford. Picture: FIONA WALKER

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A school’s £200,000 expansion to help deal with a town-wide chronic shortage of nursery places has been welcomed by the area’s MP.

Norwich Road Academy's eco extension. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH Norwich Road Academy's eco extension. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss visited Norwich Road Academy’s new Caterpillar Children’s Centre in Thetford to see how it can provide crucial early years education for 26 more children.

Like many Norfolk schools, the academy has faced increased demand to provide nursery education for children in the area.

Traditionally, its historic building meant it had only been able to provide places in the morning, leading many to parents to find nurseries elsewhere with all-day care.

However the new hi-tech, environmentally friendly 135sq m extension with a large classroom, kitchenette, toilets and changing area means the school can now offer spaces throughout the day, with doors opening at 8.45am.

Thetford Mayor Denis Crawford and Norwich Road Academy principal Tracey Thurlby opened the new building earlier this year. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH Thetford Mayor Denis Crawford and Norwich Road Academy principal Tracey Thurlby opened the new building earlier this year. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Ms Truss, who also serves in the cabinet as chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “It is a really welcoming and friendly environment and the new nursery still has a number of places available for pre-school children.

“With 135sq m of space including a large classroom, kitchenette, toilets and changing area, this enables the school to now offer childcare throughout the day, rather than just morning or afternoon slots.

“I joined a couple of the children in the toy kitchen as they created a very impressive vegetable and fruit stack - they said they loved it!”

Despite the high cost of the new building, governors and leading teaching staff believe it will pay for itself – because the building is so energy efficient it will have net zero running costs.

Norwich Road Academy's eco extension. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH Norwich Road Academy's eco extension. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Created by Net Zero Buildings, the extension has a solar panel roof and negative carbon emissions.

Stuart Wright, governor at Norwich Road Academy – who attended the school as a child, along with several generations of his family – said at the opening earlier this year: “It has always been seen as the primary school in the town centre.

“To have investment like this reinforces that it is here for the future, not just the past.”

Principal Tracey Thurlby said: “The staff and children alike were very excited to meet Elizabeth Truss during her recent visit to our school.

The eco-building at Norwich Road Academy in Thetford. Picture: NET ZERO BUILDINGS The eco-building at Norwich Road Academy in Thetford. Picture: NET ZERO BUILDINGS

“It was a pleasure to show her around our wonderful school and new nursery facilities.”

An open afternoon for parents and carers to have a look at the care offered for nursery and reception children will take place on Thursday, November 16, from 1.30pm onwards.

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