New mixed primary school will be 'unashamedly aspirational'
BRISTOL's newest primary school opens its doors to its first pupils today.
The Dolphin School is a primary academy for both boys and girls on Cheltenham Road. It was set up to help meet the city's need for more school places for children aged four to eleven.
The school will offer 60 places for reception class children in 2013 and will grow to a total of 420 pupils.
It is the only Bristol primary with a catchment area, which has been drawn up to include parts of Bishopston, Redland, Cotham and Montpelier to help meet growing demand for places for families in those districts.
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The city's school population is continuing to grow rapidly, with more than 5,300 children starting school this month, compared with around 4,000 five years ago.
The school is part of the Colston's Girls' School Trust, the single-sex secondary academy next door.
The school premises are in a converted former two-storey office block. Part of the school is a play area with specialist equipment, and a forest walk.
The pupils will benefit from the Colston's Girls' School facilities, including the gym, tennis courts and dining room.
The first 30 four-year-olds are starting their lessons today, based on a skills-based curriculum, learning through play, with more formal sessions on language and number work as well as regular French lessons.
The school will have a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy. By the time a pupil reaches the age of seven, the intention is for the child to have the reading age of at least a nine-year-old. A similarly rigorous target is being set for maths.
Specialists from the senior school will teach PE, music and maths at The Dolphin School. Like CGS, the new primary has a focus on languages. Lead teacher Marie-Noelle Evans and higher level teaching assistant Samantha Woolfenden are both bilingual in French, while the remaining staff – classroom teacher, Tania Barrow, and school secretary, Camilla Barrington – hold degrees in Italian and Spanish.
From Year 1 speech and drama lessons will help the pupils develop confidence and oral skills.
Ms Evans and her staff have visited all the children at home and the school intends to build a strong relationship with parents. A friends' organisation has already been formed to support the school.
Ms Evans said: "I am thrilled to be part of this exciting new school and to be getting to know our children and their parents. Our aim is to make sure they are happy and confident and to provide them with the highest standards of teaching so that they can learn and thrive."
Executive principal Lesley Ann Jones said: "We are delighted to welcome the first pupils of The Dolphin School. Our aim is to ensure that children have a rewarding, fulfilling and happy time at our school, and get the most out of everything we can offer them.
"The school provides a different offering for the parents of children in Bristol. It is unashamedly aspirational, with first-class facilities, a rigorous curriculum and exceptional staff. I believe that every child deserves the best school experience and the Dolphin School will provide this."