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Pupils at Ipswich primary school love their new helicopter classroom

PUBLISHED: 07:09 20 July 2018 | UPDATED: 07:09 20 July 2018

Pupils and staff at Hillside with their new helicopter  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Pupils and staff at Hillside with their new helicopter Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A military helicopter has been transformed into a unique outdoor classroom for pupils at Hillside Primary School and Nursery in Ipswich.

Nathaniel and Jaden having fun in the helicopter  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNathaniel and Jaden having fun in the helicopter Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The one-of-a-kind classroom is fully equipped with electric power, lights, carpets and wi-fi - and even has a reconstructed propellor that spins.

The cockpit has been fitted with tablets, which have flight simulator software installed to give pupils a taste of what it would be like to get behind the chopper’s controls as it soared through the skies,

The project is the brainchild of the school’s senior site manager Ben Connor, who took on the mammoth project after being inspired by George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.

Ben Connor, who restored the helicopter  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBen Connor, who restored the helicopter Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr Connor, who is retiring at the end of the academic year, assembled a team himself to carry out the months of work it took to transform the helicopter into the innovative learning space it is today.

Lee Abbott, headteacher at Hillside Primary School and Nursery, praised Mr Connor for his tireless hard work bringing the helicopter project from inspiration to reality.

“We’re so proud of what Ben has achieved,” he said.

Caden, Jaden, Nathaniel, Alex and Lydia are thrilled with the helicopter  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCaden, Jaden, Nathaniel, Alex and Lydia are thrilled with the helicopter Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“This new learning space is fantastic, and I know that it will inspire so many of our students.

“Ben has slowly transformed different spaces throughout our school over the past few years and when we ran out of space inside. He used his creativity and really thought outside of the box.”

The children are thrilled with their unique classroom space and enjoyed exploring the cockpit of the vehicle at the grand opening yesterday afternoon.

Alex inside Hillside's helicopter  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAlex inside Hillside's helicopter Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The school, in Belstead Avenue, also looks to hold its Place 2 Be sessions in the helicopter at lunch times - time set aside to support children’s emotional wellbeing outside of the school building.

Mr Connor said it was an exciting moment to finally unveil the revamped helicopter after months of hard work and dedication.

He said: “Showing the helicopter to the children and teachers has been really emotional.

“The team and I have been working on this for months and it has been great to be able to create something that the students are so excited for.

“We’ve made it very homely and my personal favourite aspect is the propeller that spins 
around to get the full helicopter effect.”

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