Professor Francis Campbell, Vice-Chancellor of St Mary's University and former UK ambassador to the Holy See, officially opened the new St Benedict's Junior School, Ealing, this week. Praising Catholic education, he said that its ethos of care for the individual, faith formation and education of the whole person is extremely precious; "never insular", with its global reach, but an education which "opens doors."
Professor Campbell, formerly the British ambassador to the Holy See, told pupils that they should always remember the three elements of "People, Place and Prospect" at St Benedict's. People, he said, create the school's ethos, "which hits you as soon as you walk through the door," adding that "The Benedictine education of the whole person and faith formation is immediately apparent here."
Secondly, the school's location beside Ealing Abbey is a constant reminder that it is part of the 1,500 year old Benedictine tradition, and that Catholic education is "the largest provider of education world-wide." Professor Campbell said: "There is nothing insular about Catholic education - it opens doors, it doesn't shut them."
Finally, he encouraged pupils to feel excited about their prospects; to "take inspiration from former pupils who have walked here before you, and who are now successful in all walks of life, doing the things they love."
Abbot Martin Shipperlee blessed the new building, which accommodates children aged 3 to 11, after which Professor Campbell unveiled a commemorative stone. Guests included pupils, parents, alumni, staff and governors, who were welcomed by the Headmaster, Andrew Johnson. The Headmaster of the Junior School, Rob Simmons, thanked everyone who had contributed to the successful completion of the new school.
The new building, designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects, is an extremely energy-efficient 'Passivhaus' construction. There are currently only a handful of schools in the UK built to this standard, making the St Benedict's Junior School an eco-friendly landmark for London. A timber frame provides a high degree of insulation, making the building up to 96% more energy efficient than older school buildings. Air quality, temperature and good oxygen levels are maintained by using heat recovery ventilation, helping everyone to stay alert. All classrooms are south facing for good natural light and can be opened up to provide larger spaces for team-teaching and shared learning. There is also a home economics room, and direct access to landscaped outdoor learning and play areas.
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