A NEW chapter has begun at a Colchester primary school.

The first sod has been cut to mark the start of work on St John’s Green Primary School’s £6million extension.

A two-storey building on Abbey Fields in Circular Road East will be ready in September next year.

Head teacher Simon Billings said: “It is exciting and will be great to have some new facilities.

“The main one is to have our own field, which will make a real difference to the children.

“We are a town centre school with a building that is 120 years old, but now we’ll have a new building overlooking Abbey Fields - that is worth its weight in gold.”

The extension is a one mile away from the school.

It will feature ten classrooms and computer room, two group rooms, a hall, kitchen, staff and administration rooms.

It will also have soft and hard play areas, a dedicated foundation stage play area and a grass playing field.

Pupils in Years 2, 3 and 4 will stay on the original school site.

Youngsters in the Foundation Year and Years 1 and 6 will be taught on the new site.

Archaeologists investigated the site at Abbey Fields, close to where remains from Britain’s only Roman chariot circus were found, before work started.

Among the items found were graves dating back thousands of years and a Roman quarry.

The remains of a Roman villa were found under what will be the playing field.

St John’s Green School has 240 pupils, but will double its intake from 30 to 60 new pupils from September 2014 and will eventually have 420 students.

The redevelopment is part of Essex County Council’s plan to cope with the growing demand for primary school places in Colchester.

A population boom has lead to expansions at North, St James, Queen Boudica and St George’s Infants and Junior schools in Colchester, St Peter’s CofE School in Boxted, Heathlands and Bishop William Ward schools in Great Horkesley.