The new West Croft School has been created from Pynes Infants and West Croft Junior School

Two Bideford schools have merged to form one primary school.

Pynes Infant and Nursery and West Croft Junior Schools have been separate for more than 50 years, but now the Department for Education has given the schools approval to merge.

It gives the new West Croft School the potential to become the largest of its kind in Devon, with a capacity for 630 pupils.

The merger happened on September 1 and the school will continue to use the two adjacent sites in Coronation Road.

Following the retirement of the previous headteacher at Pynes, acting head teacher Jo Dymond and the head of the junior school, Andrew Brierley saw the opportunity to develop closer links, culminating in the creation of a new school.

Mr Brierley hailed it as ‘a momentous event for not only the pupils, parents and staff but for the community as a whole’.

“Although relations between the two separate schools were always good, we only ever got to see half of a child’s development; the first four years at Pynes and the second four at West Croft. Becoming a Primary School enables us to get the whole picture,” he said.

“We consulted widely with our parents and were thrilled by the level of support for the amalgamation. It was clearly something the community had been considering for a long time and I am very proud to have been involved in its inception.”

Councillor James McInnes, Devon County Council’s cabinet member responsible for schools, added: “Having a smooth path between nursery, infants and juniors is better for everyone.”

Councillor Robin Julian, county councillor for Bideford South and Hartland, commented: “All the children will be staying at the same school throughout, which will cause much less disruption with their learning.”