Strategic Land

St. Modwen celebrates the official naming of the new Primary Academy at Kingsgrove

From left to right: Tim Jones, Construction Manager, St. Modwen; William Bayston, Development Manager, St. Modwen; Rob Draper, Development Director, St. Modwen; Joe Roberts, Director, Roberts Limbrick; Major Jim Sibbald, Wantage Town Mayor; Cllr June Stock, Chairman, Grove Parish Council; Sara Allen, Asset Manager, St. Modwen; Harford Smith, Crab Hill Developments Limited.

On Tuesday 24th September, St. Modwen welcomed local stakeholders, councillors and officers to celebrate the official naming and progress of works of the new GEMS Wantage Primary Academy at Kingsgrove, Wantage, which is being funded by St. Modwen and Crab Hill Developments Limited.

Set in 2.2 hectares of grounds, the school will accommodate 420 pupils and sits at the heart of the new 1,500 home community at Kingsgrove being developed by St. Modwen. The new GEMS Wantage Primary Academy is set to open its doors in September 2020, with Oxfordshire County Council having appointed GEMS Learning Trust, a not-for-profit educational charity, as operator of the school.

The local stakeholders, including church groups and residents, were taken around the site on a coach, led by St. Modwen’s Construction Manager for Kingsgrove, Tim Jones. Joe Roberts, Architect and Director at Roberts Limbrick, told guests about the vision which drove the design of the school, which will “feature modern facilities, with glass, timber, red brick and pitched roofs.”

At the site of the school, Jodie Croft, CEO of GEMS Learning Trust, was presented with a memorial plaque with the name of the school which will be installed at the entrance upon completion. Harford Smith of Crab Hill Developments Limited also presented GEMS Learning Trust with a 6ft oak tree gifted by Kingsgrove’s landscape contractors, Killingley. The gifted tree reflects the old oak tree that overlooks the site that was planted by one of the Smith’s family ancestors, which has been integrated into the plans for the site. The new oak tree continues that heritage for future generations of children and symbolises growth; that of the school, its pupils and the community developing around it.

Jodie Croft, CEO of GEMS Learning Trust, said:

“Having just appointed our new head teacher, this is an exciting time for the trust. The event was a unique opportunity to meet the previous owner of the land and learn about the heritage of the school, so we can pass the baton on. St. Modwen as master developer has taken care and consideration in terms of the design, build and stakeholder engagement in order to establish the school as the part of the community and we really appreciate this.”

The school, which includes sports pitches, a playground, a multi-use games area (MUGA) and car parking, is part of the community hub that also provides 26 nursery places and is one of the key community benefits that St. Modwen is delivering as part of the 227-acre development. It will initially welcome 2-4 year-olds in the nursery as well as Reception, Year 1 and 2 children and will largely serve the new families on the Kingsgrove development but will also offer places to local families in Wantage.

William Bayston, Development Manager at St. Modwen, said:

“We enjoyed showing our guests the progress of the school and the overall site. We believe it is important that we share how the site is developing and the hard work that is going into building the future at Kingsgrove. We are thrilled to be delivering this new primary school as we begin to create the heart of the new community.“

St. Modwen has appointed Gloucester-based Barnwood Construction to build the new school, with a targeted completion and handover to Oxfordshire County Council for fit-out in July 2020.

GEMS Learning Trust is running tours at their sister school GEMS Didcot Academy to show what the Wantage Primary Academy will look like. These tours will run 23rd October 2-3pm and 12th December 2-3pm. Anyone interested can book in via their website

For further information and to view all the site progress please visit: