THE only school in Penzance still housed in its original Victorian building is planning to expand.
St Mary's Church of England School has occupied the same premises at Redinnick Place since 1896, but head teacher Hilary Tyreman said the time was long overdue for the school to have some more space – particularly outside.
"Nothing has changed here since 1932," she said. "That's lovely, but it does bring in its own restrictions.
"We're quite cramped inside and it does sometimes prevent us providing all the facilities that we'd like to."
Now the school has drawn up proposals to use part of the adjoining Alexandra play park for outside space during term-time and build a new facility in the current playground.
The scheme is now going through Cornwall Council's pre-planning process.
The head and school governors have been in talks with the council, the Diocese of Truro and Colonel Edward Bolitho, who owns the freehold of the play park, about taking on the end section of the park which currently houses the zipwire equipment.
"The play space will be multi-use, with the school using it during school time and with the facility being hopefully available for community groups outside school hours," said Ms Tyreman.
"There's quite a lot of wasted space in the rest of the park where the zipwire could be relocated and I hope our coming in to use part of the park might act as a catalyst for looking at the whole area and seeing if it could be improved."
Ms Tyreman said she was keen to ensure the new facility was used by the whole community, which worked well in other parts of the county, and that the reaction to the plans so far had been positive.
"Colonel Bolitho was happy to consider us using part of the park," she said.
"We then submitted a pre-planning application in September and the response back from Cornwall Council has been very supportive. The town council has also been very receptive."
Having already held two meetings for parents, the school is now leafleting local residents about the plans, which Ms Tyreman said would also help alleviate parking problems in Redinnick Place: "There would be an extra entrance to the school from the prom, beside the amusement arcade, and there's plenty of parking there."
The next stage is to submit a formal planning application in the next few weeks, which will also include plans for a new building. The new facility could be ready for use in the autumn term of 2014 if approval is given.
Last week pupils from St Mary's handed over £1,000 to Roger Jeff, from ShelterBox, from a joint fundraising effort involving the school and St Mary's Church.
Ms Tyreman said: "The school council raised more than £450 by holding a Wear Your Uniform Backwards day for the Philippines disaster.
"One parent then organised a cake sale following the Hope In Darkness service at St Mary's Church which Archbishop Welby attended; that raised nearly £300. St Mary's Church has also collected for the Philippines fund. By putting this together we were able to donate a fantastic total of £1,000 to ShelterBox."