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It has 500 pupils, scores of classrooms, a headmistress, staffroom and playground. But woe betide anyone who refers to Watercliffe Meadow as a school. The word has been banished since it opened in September - because of its 'negative connotations'.Instead it is to be known as 'a place for learning'. Its head hopes the change will help 'de-institutionalise' the school.
Watercliffe Meadow, which cost £4.7million to build, was named after the three Sheffield schools which closed to make way for the merger. At the time local councillors referred to it as a school. Even its headmistress, Linda Kingdon, spoke of her 'school for the future'. But things have changed since then. Miss Kingdon, who allows children to wear slippers instead of shoes, has now banned the word.
'We decided from an early stage we didn't want to use the word "school",' she said yesterday. 'This is Watercliffe Meadow, a place for learning. One reason was many of the parents of the children here had very negative connotations of school. 'Instead we want this to a be a place for family learning, where anyone can come. We were able to start from scratch and create a new type of learning experience. There are no whistles or bells or locked doors.
'We wanted to de-institutionalise the place and bring the school closer to real life.' Watercliffe Meadow, which was named after Watermead, Shirecliffe and Busk Meadow schools, is described as a 2,000 sq m learning environment for 481 children, from nursery stage through to Year 6.