The Friends of Redhill Primary Academy in Priorslee grabbed shovels and hard hats to help a team from GN Groundworks cut the earth as work began to lay the foundations for the separate building this week.
The structure, which will provide a separate building for pastoral care at the school in Gatcombe Way, has been provided by The Friends of Redhill, a group of parents, carers, and friends who have worked tirelessly to raise the funds.
They have, in recent years, turned their primary school into Hogwarts to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book, landed a helicopter full of Hogwarts characters onto the playing field in front of 470 shocked children, appeared on live TV news and live radio, welcomed a circus for 600 and organised a Winterfest and Firework Finale for 500 during Christmas celebrations.
They’ve also held the school’s first ‘Redfest’, a festival style event for key stage 2 pupils, and a ‘Secrets, Spies and Superheroes’, community event which celebrated 100 years of GCHQ, code breakers and the Bletchley Circle.
With a passionate committee in place, backed by an army of volunteers, they organise exciting themed fundraising events which, over the last few years, have helped the school buy iPads, CD players, library books, outdoor furniture, interactive whiteboards, an outdoor castle and climbing frame, a carved wooden garden storyteller chair and sensory garden, and have recently helped the school lease a much-needed minibus for school sporting competitions and after school clubs.
'We must address children's emotional needs'
With day jobs ranging from data protection to dog walking, travel consultancy to environmental health and hotel management to PR, the team set about raising funds to support the school facility to give children their own safe place where they can discuss the pressures and problems they face confidentially and freely.
Pru McCarney, chair of the Friends of Redhill said: “Many of us have tapped into the incredible work that teaching staff at Redhill do – our school has an excellent SEND team, but their work is so much more than looking after special education needs. We must also address children's emotional needs, to make them stronger and fitter for the challenges they will face later in life.
"Pastoral care is so important now, especially after the recent months facing this world-wide pandemic.
“Too many of our young children are finding it harder to discuss their feelings with people in a professional capacity, people that really care, for so many reasons. We are desperate to encourage these open discussions from an early age, so children feel it is part of everyday life.
“We strongly believe that the idea of feeling comfortable to talk about problems from a younger age will only go to reinforce the message later in life that it's good to talk and not to bottle up your feelings.”