A Bideford primary school has doubled the number of full time early years places with the opening of a new building.

West Croft Primary and Nursery School opened its new nursery building yesterday (Friday), bringing the number of early years places for children aged three-to-four-years from 39 to 78.

The building has been funded by £378,250 from the Education Funding Agency and £100,000 from Devon County Council.

Asda Bideford also provided £500 for outdoor play equipment, which it presented to the school at the official opening.

The new build includes two large, purpose-built spaces, an all-weather, astro-turfed covered are, as well as outside learning and play areas, changing area and toilets.

West Croft pupils sing at the opening of the new building.West Croft pupils sing at the opening of the new building.

The council has funded the project because of the additional demand for early year places, which is a consequence of the Government’s extension to the free childcare entitlement.

Bideford mayor Dermot McGeough and mayoress Sarah attended the official opening, alongside Councillor Ray Radford, chairman of Devon County Council and Peppa Pig.

Mr McGeough, who brought along his four-week-old son Atlas to his first official engagement, said he was delighted to see the new facility opening.

“It’s great to see investment coming back into the town and Bideford is on the up,” said Mr McGeough.

The new building at West Croft School. Picture: Sarah HowellsThe new building at West Croft School. Picture: Sarah Howells

“It’s fantastic that West Croft was one of only four schools in Devon to receive this funding.”

Speaking at the opening, nursery leader Gail Morris, said: “It is always my belief that good, quality early years education gives children a head start before they start school.

“The families in our community deserve nothing less than the best for their children.”

Sue Wilcock, head teacher at West Croft, added: “It is fitting that the opening comes in a week when external monitoring of our school acknowledged that the nursery is one of the strengths of this rapidly improving school.

Rob Sanson, from Asda Bideford, and Gail Morris, nursery leader at West Croft.Rob Sanson, from Asda Bideford, and Gail Morris, nursery leader at West Croft.

“We aim to be the school of choice and the employer of choice in this area of North Devon as we embrace the opportunity provided now to extend our facilities and wrap around childcare provision for local families in our community.

“It’s what these children deserve and most certainly what they will get.

“We have a very dedicated determined and passionate team. I feel privileged to be headteacher here sharing in this exciting journey.”

The new nursery facility will be open from 8am-6pm for 50 weeks of the year to support working families extending morning, afternoon and after school hours Early Years provision.