A school where many children are currently forced to eat in their classrooms because the dining hall is too small is to benefit from a multi-million pound renovation.

Thorpe Hall Primary School in Hale End Road, Walthamstow, launched a campaign for a new dining hall in December 2011, collecting more than 4,000 signatures on a petition calling for £300,000 worth of funding from Waltham Forest Council.

And the authority is now set to spend millions of pounds on overhauling the design of the school.

Work, which is expected to begin shortly, will include a new kitchen and dining area by Christmas this year - and new classrooms, a library and a drama theatre by September next year.

Staff also hope to grow an orchard to provide the school's own food.

In addition the school will take on one additional reception class from September 2014, increasing the number of students at the school from around 500 to more than 700 by 2017.

Headteacher Paulette Houghton said: "It’s going to be brilliant. It’s hard to believe that before Christmas the dining hall and kitchen will be a reality.

"I’m really proud of all the people who have put effort into achieving this. Before we were getting meals delivered in but now there will even be a window in the playground for kids to look at their meals being prepared in the kitchen.

"We want to focus on healthy eating with the orchard, and also there’ll hopefully be a climbing frame and a running track to keep kids active."

The larger dining hall, designed to fit in all 710 pupils, will also provide much more space for PE activities and after-school clubs, things which were not possible in the previous hall.

Ms Houghton said community groups can hire them out as well for evenings and weekends.

David Hoskins, 41, a parent and member of the Friends of Thorpe Hall, who helped lead the campaign for a new hall, said: "I’m really pleased for the school, it’s just amazing.

"Quite rightly they are modernising the school - the old classrooms were showing their age and were pretty drab so bright, new facilities will be really beneficial for the children."

The plans will be out for public consultation until March 14 and if the feedback is favourable then building work is expected to start shortly afterwards.

The school is open to the public between 3pm and 6.30pm tomorrow for people to view the plans.

The Guardian has requested the exact cost of the project from Waltham Forest Council.

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