31 May 2016
During the visit, the Bishop met teachers and pupils and dedicated the new school building before he was shown around the new facilities by headmistress Pim Grimes and some of the school’s pupils. The cutting edge new facilities offer specialist classrooms allowing smaller class sizes, a library, a science laboratory, an art studio, a media and computing room, a new performing arts space and a gym. Students told the Bishop how the school day had been improved by the new building, which is much more open and easier to navigate than the labyrinthine complex of buildings which previously housed the junior school.
The dedication service took place in the brand-new performing arts centre, with children giving readings and three of the school’s musicians performing instrumentals. It was attended by students, teachers and parents as well as the Mayor of Winchester and the architect and builders who constructed the new building. New specialised teaching rooms in the building offer students more focussed teaching by providing space for smaller class sizes, while the extra capacity also allows the school to expand to two form entry in every year group.
The new school replaces the former buildings which were opened in 1931. Pim Grimes, Headmistress of St Swithun’s Junior School, said:
“Today is a significant moment in the history of the junior school and we are delighted to welcome The Bishop of Winchester to dedicate our new school. It is important to remember today the words of Miss Finlay, the then Headmistress of St Swithun’s, when the former school buildings were opened in 1931; ‘On such an important occasion there are many things of which I might talk; our founders and benefactors, our beautiful surroundings or the many modern devices which we have around us. Instead I chose to speak to you of the spirit of the new school. The school finds its spirit in its members. Although the shell is beautiful, the spirit would not be so, unless we made it so. Our old school was loveable although the shell was ugly. It is for us to carry on the tradition. Let us remember that a building always takes its character from that of its inmates and once made, this is very hard to change. For this purpose I have chosen the motto for the year, ‘Serve God and be joyful’. If we keep to this motto we cannot but make our new school loveable.’
“These words still apply today, the spirit of our school is beautiful and our school takes its character from its wonderful pupils, staff, parents and governors, or, to use Miss Finlay’s words, its inmates.”
The Right Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, said:
“I was delighted to officially open the new junior school building and reaffirm the close relationship between St Swithun’s School and the Diocese of Winchester. These new facilities offer an exceptional learning environment for students and will benefit the whole school community. During my visit I was greatly encouraged by the school’s commitment to the Christian values of compassion and mutual respect. The school’s pervasive atmosphere of spiritual and intellectual nourishment is a testament to the teachers, staff and parents of St Swithun’s and the new buildings will serve to enhance the nurturing environment this excellent school provides.”