Arson-hit Derby Catholic primary will reopen soon as UK’s first green ‘biophilic’ school

Young Catholic pupils in Derby will move into a new ‘green’ school at the beginning of December – three years after their original building was destroyed by fire in an arson attack on the same site. Fire broke out at St Mary’s Catholic Academy, Broadway in October 2020 and, since April 2021, staff and pupils have been based at St James’ House in Mansfield Road.

St Mary’s new building is set to be the UK’s greenest primary school, and first “biophilic” school, as part of a pilot project by the Department for Education. Biophilic design focuses on connecting those inside with nature, with the goal of promoting physical and mental health.

Executive head teacher Amanda Greaves told The Derby Telegraph: “This move is a hugely positive and long-awaited milestone and we know that pupils and staff will be excited to finally return to Broadway, to a brand new biophilic school.

“I would like to thank the staff for their loyalty, resilience and everything they have done these past three years to provide the very best education in the most difficult circumstances for the good of our pupils and families.

“We continue to be extremely grateful and humbled by the ongoing support we receive from our parents and carers and we would like to thank them for their patience, understanding and support over the past three years.”

The official handover of the site from the contractors, Tilbury Douglas UK, is set to take place on November 24. The school will then take INSET days from Monday, November 27, to Friday, December 1, in order to complete the move and prepare the new school to welcome pupils on Monday, December 4.

Kevin Gritton, chief executive of the St Ralph Sherwin Trust, which St Mary’s is part of, said: “This is a new chapter for St Mary’s and this wonderful new school will be a place where staff will continue to provide children with the very best education and care.

“The school’s recent Ofsted report saw it being graded ‘good’ overall with ‘outstanding’ features and we are looking forward to seeing the school go from strength to strength.”