It was a day of celebration for the pupils, staff, family and friends of St John the Evangelist Catholic Academy in Kidsgrove.

Their new school building, on Gloucester Road, was officially opened by Archbishop Bernard Longley who celebrated a Thanksgiving Mass on Tuesday 26 September.

With much more space and views overlooking Mow Cop Castle and Jodrell Bank, the new multi-million pound building is a far cry from the school's previous two sites - having operated on The Avenue and Gloucester Road with key stage one children at one location and key stage two children at the other.

Now all the children are together this is hugely beneficial - particularly at lunchtimes thanks to a new, working kitchen (with food now prepared on site) and a huge hall.

The new school, part of The Newman Catholic Collegiate (NCC), was funded by the Department for Education. The Collegiate has also funded £150,000 worth of improvements to the key stage two site.

Principal Helen Rigby told The Sentinel: “We are incredibly excited and thrilled to be in our new school building. It’s amazing. The pupils have been walking around in awe. The biggest difference is the sheer amount of space we all now have, and the views.”

The new building offers an abundance of outdoor space and lovely views. All the classrooms have new furniture and interactive screens as well as their own accessible toilet blocks.

“We’ve been separate for so long,” added Mrs Rigby. “It’s great for the key stage two pupils who can now develop their leadership skills and spend time with the younger children. It also helps staff as some had to travel between two sites and others went weeks without seeing each other.”

The old nursery had a waiting list and a 26-child cap. But the bigger space can now accommodate 30 children.

Mrs Rigby added: “I’m excited to lead the school in this new chapter, delivering exceptional education in a more fitting setting. Creating a sense of togetherness is something I’ve been looking forward to doing with our beautiful new building."

NCC Catholic senior executive leader, Ian Beardmore, said: “We’re thrilled that Mrs Rigby and her team are finally able to enjoy the new school building. It’s a beautiful, big building which will be transformative for the pupils and their education.

“Combining the two sites has been an ambition of the collegiate for a long time and we’re confident that Mrs Rigby, her staff and the pupils will settle in quickly enjoying their new and improved space.”

Photo album by Mark Lear

Thanksgiving Mass, St John the Evangelist Catholic Academy, Kidsgrove