GOING back to school is not normally a prospect that youngsters yearn for after a long summer break; but for excited Bideford College students taking their first steps inside their brand new state-of-the-art college, the new term couldn t come quick enoug

GOING back to school is not normally a prospect that youngsters yearn for after a long summer break; but for excited Bideford College students taking their first steps inside their brand new state-of-the-art college, the new term couldn't come quick enough.

As the students - and staff - got used to their new surroundings last week, the Gazette visited the college to find out what they thought of their new £54million school.

Mike Newby, Bideford College coordinator, said: "We have done what we set out to do four years ago and that is to create a vibrant new environment where students will want to come and enjoy learning.

"To see it full of students now is just fantastic. It was great to see them come in on the first day and see the look on their faces.

"We've had to deal with a lot of issues along the way to get to where we are but to see the students' excitement, surprise and enthusiasm has made it all worthwhile.

"I hope that when the phase two work is complete with the new all weather pitch and hard courts, their excitement will continue with sport."

Stacey Miley, 13, from Northam, said: "I was really looking forward to coming back. The classrooms are really big and modern.

"I thought I was going to get lost but there's a map in our school planners so it's quite easy to find your way around."

Shannon Crouch, 13, from Bideford, said: "It's a lot bigger than the old college and I really like the design and the colour. It's really up-to-date and a lot smarter than before."

Jem Yildirim, 11, from Northam, said he was really excited about coming to school. "My first impressions were that it is awesome - off the scale," he said.

"It's really cool inside and out and there is grass on the roof and solar panels, which are really good for the environment.

"They help to absorb energy and spread it around the school. The classrooms are designed so that children with hearing difficulties can hear the teacher.

"There are a lot of opportunities here; we have a newer cleaner school and we can get a better education and move on to get a better life."

Millie Sutherland-O'Gara, 12, from East-the-Water, added: "It's quite gargantuan really and completely different to the old school. It's good that they started from new and didn't try to build up what they already had.

"We couldn't believe how high some of the classrooms are - there are some great views of grasslands and trees from the highest rooms."

Nick Napper-Slater, 12, from Westward Ho! thought the buildings were really tall. "I like how you can sit outside with your mates in the seating areas at break times," he added.

"The classrooms have got much better equipment and there is a general atmosphere of awe at how impressive the school is."

Ellie Morgan-Shaw, 11, from Westward Ho! said the new school was even better than she thought it would be. "I really like the thumb print payment system to make it easy to pay for food and drink at the canteen," she said.

Teacher Shirley Langford, head of PE, said: "When you walk in for the first time you just go 'wow'.

"There are huge benefits - not just for the youngsters of Bideford but for the whole Bideford community. When you see the students walk in, you can sense that they are itching to get to get started.