Household appliances giant Dyson has pledged £6m to help a Wiltshire school build a new arts and sciences education centre.
The firm’s charitable arm, The James Dyson Foundation, is looking to drive expansion plans at Malmesbury C of E Primary School, which include a new facility for the combined teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM).
The company – known for its vacuum cleaners and fans – has supported engineering education at the school for more than 20 years, while a quarter of its pupils have parents or guardians working at Dyson’s nearby campus, located within one mile of the school.
The donation is dependent on the school receiving approval for its plans for the STEAM centre and an expansion in pupil numbers from the South West’s Regional Department for Education.
Dyson said the school’s plans, which include seven new classrooms and a school hall, would allow for a 50% increase in the student population size, totalling 630 pupils across all age groups.
The company said the facility could help educate “the engineers and scientists of tomorrow”. Its billionaire founder, Sir James Dyson, added that he “strongly believes” in STEAM subjects being taught side-by-side, as it could encourage knowledge gained from one discipline to be applied to another.
Sir James said: “Dyson has grown in Malmesbury for the past 30 years and many of our engineers either studied at Malmesbury School themselves or have their own children there now.
“We have long supported the school and simultaneously been on a mission to inspire more engineers all around the world. The creation of a new STEAM centre, right here in Malmesbury, will enable the school to be a pioneer for this age range, encouraging problem-solving and hopefully long lives as engineers!”
Malmesbury C of E Primary School said it was currently at full capacity and unable to provide for a “growing population” in Malmesbury.
The James Dyson Foundation said the expansion would enable the school to acquire neighbouring land free of charge from one of the town’s largest new housing developments.
The school said it was looking to offer a place to every child living in the town, so that they do not have to travel to other schools in surrounding villages.
Headteacher Steve Heal said the level of support it could receive should its plans get the go-ahead, would be “unprecedented” in the state primary sector.
Mr Heal said: “Malmesbury C of E Primary School is thrilled to have the James Dyson Foundation’s support to expand our school so that we can meet the growing needs of the town, and bring wonderful new learning opportunities to all our pupils.
“We hope we will receive approval from the Regional Department for Education allowing us to unlock this generous donation and deliver an inspiring building.”
Wilkinson Eyre, the architects behind Dyson’s Malmesbury campus and student accommodation, would be enlisted to design the new space at the school, should the the plans be approved.
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