Sir Michael Morpurgo inspires children at opening of Monkerton Community Primary School

Sir Michael Morpurgo was the guest of honour at the official opening of Monkerton Community Primary School on 16 September, when guests were given a tour of the state-of-the-art facilities that children in Reception and Year 1 have been enjoying since the start of term. The school has become the fourth in the Cornerstone Academy Trust.

Sir Michael delighted the children by reading his book about being six years old himself, Owl or Pussycat?, and he left the copy of the book for the school library.

He said: “It’s such an honour to be at the beginning of a school. It’s as if we’re all sitting down and writing the first sentence of the first chapter. The lives that begin here are going to be massively enriched, not by the football pitch, not even the wonderful buildings (though they’ll help) but by the teachers and parents – these are the people who take our children by the hand and lead them, help them to think for themselves, be themselves, find their voices. This is a place where dreams and memories are made. I wish all the children who come here the happiest of times, and when they walk out of these doors, that they leave with the memories.”

The Year 6 choir from Broadclyst Community Primary School, the founding school of the Cornerstone Academy Trust, sang to the guests - the first time they have been able to represent the Trust in performance since before the pandemic.

Speakers also included Hannah Woodhouse, South West Regional Schools Commissioner, who said: “It was always a pleasure to be working with you as you designed this exceptional place. The work that you do across all of your schools is a great example of the work we see in Academy Trusts in the south-west. It’s a wonderful ending to a wonderful project.”

CEO and Headteacher Jonathan Bishop added: “The contractors for the DfE are ISG, who constructed this great building. One of the comments from ISG’s project manager was about just how many hours API spent on site putting the technology and audio-visual equipment into the classrooms; we have invested heavily in the infrastructure of our schools - this hall can stream out assemblies across the Trust, and in all our schools we have children who are isolating but interacting remotely with children in the classroom.”

Digital connectivity is a key feature of all Cornerstone Academy Trust Schools and all students at all four schools have 1:1 access to devices. Mark East, Senior Director at Microsoft, announced at the event that Monkerton, alongside the other three Trust schools, has been designated a Microsoft Showcase School in its own right.