Thornhill school opens new teaching block to build ‘community’ and ‘calm’

Thornhill school opens new teaching block to build ‘community’ and ‘calm’

An important milestone for the Linmere Community was marked on Friday, 14 October, as the new state-of-the-art extension was officially opened at Thornhill Primary School. The new building, built to the highest sustainable Passivhaus standards and energy efficiency ratings, will allow the school to grow from 210 to 630 pupils.

The new extension and teaching block is arranged around a central playground, overlooked by circulation spaces and a new access deck. A deck wraps the entire two-storey section of the building, providing valuable breakout space for smaller group learning, and connecting teaching with the outside space.

At the heart of the school is a double-height entrance atrium and split-level library, adjacent to the new sports/ dining hall, centralising the facilities, and promoting active learning within a centralised hub. Thornhill pupils, from years 2 to 6, have already been settling into the new space on Silver Birch Avenue from the start of the September term.

Deputy Headteacher, Chris Gunning, said: “They really like the space… they love the colours and they mentioned that we’ve got wood on the ceilings, in our halls and around the doors, which helps them to ‘feel calmer’. A lot of our kids here need support for whatever reason, whether that’s to push them because they’re brilliant learners, or if they need some extra support. Now, we’ve got a building that provides space for us to intervene and help them make more and more progress”


“They like that the corridors are much more communal spaces. It gives them a chance to see children in other year groups, which they said feels more like a community.”

Deputy Head Teacher Chris Gunning 

Central Bedfordshire Council Executive Member for Families, Education and Children, Cllr Sue Clark, commented: “We’re proud that the design of the building has already had such a positive effect on them and that they’ll continue to engage with environmental issues as part of their education.”

The official opening was attended by Central Bedfordshire Council Chairman Gordon Perham, Central Bedfordshire Council ward councillors Susan Goodchild (Houghton Hall) and Patrick Hamill (Tithe Farm) and Houghton Town Mayor Cllr Yvonne Farrell, plus representatives from Ashe Construction, who built the block, ECD Architects, who designed it, and Lands Improvement, the team supporting the wider Linmere plan.

John Heaney MCIAT, Project Lead for ECD Architects commented: “[Thornhill is] designed to ensure it is one of the most energy-efficient primary schools in the country… I wish all the pupils many years of healthy learning and I hope, as the children grow in the school, they take some inspiration from a building that, in one small step, is helping provide a more sustainable future for them and the generations to come.”

The new extension has received fantastic praise from Thornhill pupils settling into the new space. Those pupils attending the official opening described “wonderful colours… a smell of popcorn, which makes me feel calmer.”

“wonderful colours… a smell of popcorn, which makes me feel calmer.”

Thornhill School Pupils

The new building has been developed to meet Passivhaus, a leading international design standard that seeks to deliver high standards of comfort, well-being and substantial reductions in energy use. Research has shown that buildings account for up to 35% of total energy consumption, presenting a substantial opportunity for developers to address climate change through high-quality construction, measured targets, all certified by Passivhaus throughout the development.

Andrew Morris, Ashe Construction Business Development Director noted: “To make the investment in a Passivhaus school signals their [Central Bedfordshire Council’s] intention to become a leading force in creating a sustainable future for us all. It was a challenging project but one that has delivered exceptional results, and one that we are very proud to have been involved with.”

Ben Phillips, Linmere Development Director, said: “We are extremely excited by the opening of the Thornhill extension, and we welcome the school as an integral part of the new Linmere community.”

“..we welcome the school as an integral part of the new Linmere community.”

Ben Phillips, Linmere Development Director 

Thornhill Primary School was one of 14 schools across Central Bedfordshire to have received their ‘Eco-School Green Flag Award’ this summer. It’s a reward for the ecological achievements of the young people here, demonstrating that their hard work is appreciated and encouraging them to continue to engage with environmental issues. Read the full story here.

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