A £1.6-MILLION project to provide new classrooms and a hall at South Tawton Primary was officially launched last Friday.

The chairman of Devon County Council, George Gribble, cut the first turf for the development project at South Tawton Primary School at a special launch event.

The school secured funding for the project from Devon County Council's Capital Strategy fund last year as part of the Capital Build programme.

It will be used to replace four outdated classroom buildings with one new purpose-built classroom block. It will have three classrooms, each with separate cloakrooms and toilets and additional learning space, plus a new school hall.

The buildings being demolished are four huts that stand in the school playground. Originally built to be temporary classrooms, they have stood on the site since 1962, and are no longer fit for purpose.

The project will provide a modern, single-storey building that aesthetically matches those surrounding it, so it meets both Dartmoor National Park and conservation area parameters.

It is intended to complete the building work by the start of 2016.

Headteacher Heather Poustie said the 200 pupils would then benefit from accommodation fit for learning in the 21st century.

'With the building plans for new classrooms and a school hall, we have a very exciting time ahead,' she said.

Devon County Council's cabinet member for schools, James McInnes, is also the local county councillor for South Tawton.

He said: 'I am delighted that the county council has been able to fund this long awaited development.

'Last year Ofsted rated every aspect of teaching and learning at South Tawton as good. This will give the children a modern learning environment that will match the quality of teaching and learning they already enjoy.'

Phase one of the build includes three new classes and a resource base as well as toilets, cloakrooms and stock cupboards and should be ready for the first day of September.

Phase 2, which includes the new school hall, should be completed by January 2016.