New primary school at ‘mini-city’ will accept pupils from across Nottinghamshire

A new primary school on track to open in time for the start of the next academic year will accept pupils from all across Nottinghamshire. Rivendell Flying High Academy is the nursery and primary school that will open at the site of the Rivendell housing development off the A612 Colwick Loop Road, between Netherfield and Stoke Bardolph, near the Victoria Retail Park.

More than 800 homes will be built there once work on the vast new neighbourhood is complete, and a primary school and nursery is being constructed to meet expected demand. There are wider plans for a new Aldi supermarket nearby.

The brand new academy will open in September 2022 and have a total of 210 places, with places in year groups from Foundation 2 up to Year 6 to soon become available, along with nursery places. Keys will be handed over to the trust behind the academy once work is complete in the next few weeks, which is when potential pupils and parents will be invited to express interest or learn more about the school.

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Caroline Armstrong, who herself lives in Beeston, has been appointed as the new headteacher of the academy. She says that as the school is newly opening, their admissions criteria will be “different to normal”.

Speaking to Nottinghamshire Live, Mrs Armstrong said: “We’re accepting anyone that wants to be a part of it, and, as we’re newly opening, we won’t start with the admissions criteria that we will eventually have. Anyone from Netherfield, Gedling, Burton Joyce and further afield will be welcome to join.

“It’s not just for the new housing estate we’re based on. We’re on the commuting from Newark into the city centre too. There are no delays and we are on track to open in September. As soon as we have the keys for the school, we’ll be having meetings with parents and inviting them down to see what we’ve got, and having one-to-ones.”

Caroline Armstrong, the newly appointed headteacher
Caroline Armstrong, the newly appointed headteacher

Mrs Armstrong says the school will assess what pupils need to catch-up on having either been at other schools, or having their learning impacted by the Covid pandemic, a time when most pupils were taught from home. She said: “There will be a catch-up strategy in all schools for many years to come, and there will be some gaps that children have.

“But we’ll be assessing those gaps and bringing in interventions. My vision for this school is for it to be at the very heart of the community, and for it to be a beacon of good practice. We want this school to be on the map from the very beginning.

“We’re hoping that our early years nursery and reception years will be the most full from the beginning, as this is where the foundation for the school will be built. We want to build strong relations with children, parents and people in the local community.”

A look inside one of the classrooms
A look inside one of the classrooms

The school and nursery will be run by The Flying High Partnership, a multi-academy Trust. Having spent so long working for the Trust, Mrs Armstrong has lofty ambitions for the school.

She said: “We are going to create a fantastic new reading area and immersive environments, such as if we’re exploring rainforests, children will be able to walk down a corridor and feel that they’re in one. We want the children to feel, hear and experience as much as possible.

“There’s a beautiful outdoor area, and a lot of thought is going into that so children can learn outside too, such as the importance of sustainability along with things like playground markings. We’ll get waterproofs and wellies on and really enjoy the new school.

“I like to trial new things, and we’ll be a champion of using digital technology while being inclusive and meeting all the needs of all children. Pupils will be able to enjoy a state-of-the-art building and they’ll see that as soon as they walk through the reception of the main building.”

Mrs Armstrong has been teaching for more than 16 years and has worked as part of The Flying High Partnership since it started in 2012. She’s had various roles in schools across the county, and said she could not pass up the “opportunity of a lifetime” to build up the school from scratch.

She said: “To have this is a dream come true, who would think they’d have the opportunity to open a brand new school? We’re currently recruiting our very own team and we’re purchasing everything brand new.”

Chris Wheatley, CEO of The Flying High Partnership, said: “We are thrilled with Caroline’s appointment and together we know that Rivendell Flying High Academy will open its doors as a shining example of the impact a good school can have on children and their community. Our philosophy is to make every day count for children and their education, and this is why we will work ceaselessly to create a school the community can be proud of and one which nurtures children to flourish in their education.”

Described as a ‘mini-city’ by Gedling Borough Council leader John Clarke, the housing development has been named Rivendell as a nod to the area’s link with the Lord of the Rings. The author of the legendary novels, JRR Tolkien, visited his aunt’s farm in the Jessops Lane area of Gedling, around two miles from the development site.

Work is underway on an Aldi store set to open and create more than 100 jobs at the £30m Teal Park trade area next to the vast housing estate. Tool Station, Screwfix and Howdens will all move into new units at nearby Teal Park. There are also plans for a new local centre, expected to include a pub and nursery.