Youngsters at a North Yorkshire Primary School have left a lasting legacy on the steel framework of their new school extension.

Sherburn Hungate Primary School in Sherburn-in-Elmet is undergoing a £2.5 million refurbishment and extension to almost double capacity and meet growing population demands.

The school, which is run by the Sherburn, Tadcaster and Rural – Multi-Academy Trust, currently has 243 pupils and will be have capacity grow to 446 once the work is complete in April 2021.

Working with lead consultants Align Property Partners on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council, Sewell Construction has been appointed to complete the project while the school remains operational, ensuring minimal disruption to teaching and learning.

Five pupils from each class were chosen to sign the steel based on points awarded for their positive behaviour and were able to ask Sewell Construction Site Manager Steve Ratcliffe questions on their way to make their mark at the Covid-secure event.

Deputy Headteacher Fiona Mackay said: “The local village has had over 700 new houses built and the population has increased, so we need a new building.

“The children loved signing the steel and were so excited. As it worked so well, we’re going to run the same points challenge each half term and we hope all of the children, as well as the staff, will have had chance to visit the site by the time the project is completed.

“We have a great relationship with the Sewell team and they’re really professional and efficient.

“Their pictures are on our notice board along with their names and a little bit of information about themselves. We asked them to write their first names on their hard hats and they’re definitely part of our school family.”

The project, which began in July, is being completed in three phases and has already seen classrooms refurbished and an additional classroom created, as well as a corridor built to link to the new extension.

The school’s admin office has also been extended alongside refurbishment of a corridor and the front of the school, and the hall will be refurbished to create a more flexible space which can be partitioned.

Now, work is underway on the new extension, which will include five new classrooms and breakout areas, while the car park and playground areas will also be upgraded.

Miss Mackay said the children were initially introduced to the Sewell Construction team via a PowerPoint presentation and have since recognised them around school. They have also been able to ask questions via speakerphone while watching the team work from a distance.

Year three pupil Sophie Pal, seven, said: “I was the only girl in my class who signed the steel and I was really excited.

“I asked Steve how long it would take to build and he said it will be ready for when the Easter Bunny comes. When we accidentally kick the ball over, the builders throw it back to us.”

Fellow year three pupil Harrison Sanders, seven, who also signed the steel, said: “I’m used to it because my dad is a builder and lets me sign the steel where he works. I really liked doing it.”

The Sherburn Hungate Primary School refurbishment and extension comes after Sewell Construction completed the refurbishment and extension of nearby Athelstan Community Primary School in the same village.

Working on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council, the team completed the project over 59 weeks and it was handed over in October 2017.

Steve said: “It’s fantastic to work with North Yorkshire County Council once again and we’ve pulled out all the stops to ensure this project can be completed in a safe and timely manner while the school remains operational.

“Communication is key on this project and we speak to the school team on an almost hourly basis to plan ahead and ensure everyone remains safe, so everyone is on the same page and there is a single team approach.

“Everything is going really well so far and we’re on target despite the wider challenges 2020 has brought.

“The children have shown so much interest in the work we’re doing, they know who we are and they know me by name. They love to watch what’s happening from a distance and they loved signing the steel.

“They’ll be able to come back in years to come and share their story with their own families and friends.”

Stuart Carlton, Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services at North Yorkshire Country Council, said: “This project will benefit many children and families in the Sherburn area and we’re delighted to see it taking shape.

“When completed, this project will provide a high-quality teaching environment, which should inspire children and help them achieve their potential with the extra resources and facilities available. We know the pupils are enjoying watching the work progress and looking forward to moving into their brand new extension.”

Hannah Clayton, Architect at Align Property Partners, said: “We are thrilled to be involved in seeing the redevelopment and extension works being realised at Sherburn Hungate Primary School after several years of collaboration on the design with the school and North Yorkshire County Council.

“The school have been welcoming and the pupils have been inquisitive, so it’s great to be able to get them involved where we can.

“We are looking forward to seeing the school benefitting from the additional classrooms and enhanced facilities, which should improve their learning environment.”