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Rural Renewal


From a dilapidated early 19th century cattle shed and hay barn arose ‘the ultimate learning environment’, as one mother put it. With the support of The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) under its Rural Development Programme, an amazing transformation occurred creating a light, spacious and beautiful premises for Staunton Montessori School & Tutorial.

Head Teacher Robert Staunton said, ‘We’re so grateful for the DEFRA grant; without it we couldn’t have gone ahead with the plans we had for an extra special renovation… something that would really impact on the children and whole school community. If Jamie Oliver is passionate about school dinners, we are passionate about school architecture! We’ve included so many original features of the barn, giving a very organic and inspiring feel.’ With the 50% grant from DEFRA the school has also been able to focus on issues of social inclusion, providing low-cost, high quality education and even an ‘Early Years Scholarship Scheme’. Mr Staunton said: ‘My incredible grandfather, architect Peter Foster OBE, designed the school with us. Along with my talented wife and a rather artistic builder we really achieved something of merit for the community. I’m fed up with seeing ugly schools & Portacabins classrooms; all of our children deserve better!’

Before:                                                        After:

CRUMBLING CATTLE SHEDRenovations to our 19th century barns have created a wonderful atmosphere for the school.

dilapidated hay barnStaunton Montessori Tutorial