WIDE-EYED students made their first tentative steps through the front doors of the new Caldicot School this morning.

The state-of-the-art secondary school’s Year 7 and Year 12 pupils got the chance to be the first to have a look around before starting the new term.

Youngsters filing off from school buses, or under the watchful gaze of expectant parents, were greeted by teachers before having the chance to roam parts of the £36.5 million facility.

“It’s awesome, I really like it. I’m ready to start learning,” said Elizabeth Millar, 11, of Caldicot.

Deiniol Hughes, also 11, of Magor, added: “I’m very excited. When I walked in I couldn’t believe how big it was.”

After a brief tour around the school, its newest pupils were soon directed into the new school hall for a welcoming assembly from head teacher of 14 years, Susan Gwyer-Roberts.

The other year group, who will be embarking on their first year of A-level study, were assigned to their new forms in the school’s impressive atrium.

The open-space area is flanked on all sides by new-look teaching areas and an impressive IT suite kitted out with the latest in digital technology.

South Wales Argus:

Year 12 pupils are briefed by senior staff on their first day. Pic: Chris Tinsley

Charlie Lee, 16, of Portskewett, said: “The new school will be better for us than the old one, and the new facilities will really help us.”

Erin Rees, 16, of Caldicot admitting to be being “a bit nervous” ahead of the new term but was looking forward to learning at the new school.

Deputy head Mark Sexton described the opening as a “massive accomplishment” for the school as it headed into a “bright future”.

He said: “The staff are really happy with their teaching areas, they have very generously sized rooms that are very well equipped.

“Having these brand new facilities will just make teaching far more exciting for both pupils and teachers.”

Caldicot is the first school to be built in Monmouthshire under the 21st Century Schools programme partnership between the local authority and the Welsh Government.

Along with the newly-opened building, extensive landscaping – which includes outdoor classrooms and a new car park – is planned over the coming months.

South Wales Argus:

The new £36.5 million Caldicot School. Picture: Chris Tinsley

The old school buildings, including the building which once served as the town’s community when it opened in 1958, will soon be demolished to make way for the sprawling grounds.

The opening was also a significant day for Simon Kneafsey, the chief architect behind the new-look school which he described as offering a “mature and collegiate” environment to encourage success.

“After watching the children coming in and seeing that sense of awe and excitement is really quite exciting for me after working on this for two-and-a-half years,” he added.

 “I’ve been working in the industry for 26 years and I’d say this school along with Monmouth are the best schools that I’ve worked on.”

Further projects under the 21st Century Schools programme include the new Monmouth Comprehensive School, which aims to be open in September 2018, a new secondary and Welsh medium primary school in Abergavenny, and a new secondary school in Chepstow.