PUPILS at a Cornish primary school this week walked through the doors of a unique new classroom for the first time.
And for the children of two Upton Cross primary schools, the opening of the new building marked a real achievement.
For they helped in the design and building of the new classroom, thanks to grant aid and an unusual link between town and country.
The new classroom is a traditional Cornish cob building, made with local materials including Cornish oak and roofed with turf.
Students at 78-pupil Upton Cross Primary, near Liskeard, helped in its design and construction together with their friends from Upton Cross Primary School in Newham, London.
The two schools have a thriving 'twinning' link set up by their head teachers, Mark Clutsom, from Cornwall, and Nick Turvey from London.
The pupils helped professionals from Clayworks (formerly Cob in Cornwall) and Cornish oak specialists Carter Hayward build the new cob classroom, mixing materials and getting their hands thoroughly dirty during one of the regular exchange visits between the two schools.
London children returned to Cornwall for the official opening of the building.
The building was made possible by a £45,000 grant from the Arts Council.
The grant was secured by Upton Cross's recently retired senior teacher Jackie Wray, and the project included involvement with the Cornish school's linked school in Uganda, whose head teacher, Daniel Hamia, also came to the opening.
The grant scheme was set up to stimulate arts and creativity throughout the curriculum, and paid for classroom work as well as the building.
Mr Clutsom said: "This project has fostered so many of the links we use to enhance our children's education at Upton Cross – it brings together our environmental aims and objectives, our efforts to improve the children's understanding of the rest of our country and its cultures and people, and our work to improve the children's understanding of the wider world too.
"The work on the building gave us great practical opportunities in teaching literacy, numeracy and science. As such it's been a very rewarding experience."
The building was designed and constructed by Clayworks Ltd and Carter Hayward, with contributions from the local community.
Adam Weismann, co-director at Clayworks, said: "This was a true community build with contributions from Darren Piper, who did a great job with the stonework; Martin Hoare, who skilfully mixed every batch of cob with his JCB; and Jack Daniel, a local farmer, who used his tractor to help us lift the turf liner into place.
"The pupils were involved in both the design and construction.The stone footing comes from a local quarry, the cob walls are made up from local clay, sand and straw, the roof is built with Cornish oak and the clay plaster was made in Cornwall.
"Every child in the school had a hand in laying the cob and applying the natural clay plasters. It was a pleasure to work at Upton Cross because the village was so supportive of the project."