Dunbury Academy TARDIS, Winterborne Whitechurch, Dorset – March 2016

The entrance of Dunbury Academy TARDIS
Welcome to the Dunbury Academy TARDIS!

Hello everyone and welcome to a new blog post. This time I am not visiting a filming location but rather an actual TARDIS – the TARDIS at Dunbury Church of England Academy! I read about the Dunbury Academy TARDIS in my local newspaper, the Daily Echo, and when I saw the article I thought ‘I want to go there!’. I emailed the school and got invited to have a trip through time and space on the TARDIS…

Dunbury Academy is in the village of Winterborne Whitechurch. It is a small school for the children of the Winterborne Valley in Dorset and the school’s motto is

Inspire, Learn, Empower.

I was given the opportunity to have the day off from my school so that I could visit the TARDIS and I travelled there last week by train and bus. When I arrived at the school I couldn’t help but notice how small it was compared to my own. I felt very welcome and I was immediately greeted by Mr Payne the teacher who made the TARDIS, who invited me to come and have a lesson. On Thursday night Mr Payne was awarded Nursery / Primary Teacher of the Year in the first ever Daily Echo School Awards. Well done Mr Payne!

Entering the Dunbury Academy TARDIS
Entering the TARDIS

I was greeted by some of the Dunbury students and got taken to the TARDIS which was materialised on the first floor. There was no key but I was allowed to open the door using a Sonic Screwdriver. I couldn’t stop saying ‘Wow!’ as I was so surprised – it was bigger than I thought it would be but then again, it is a TARDIS. I started exploring but suddenly Daleks appeared on the screen – we were under threat!

Daleks attack at Dunbury Academy TARDIS!
Dalek attack!

First we had to solve a coded message from Rassilon, the Lord High President of Gallifrey then we travelled around time and space meeting many historic figures. The pupils and I had to solve multiple puzzles to ensure we were safe from the Daleks, including maths, codes, Roman Numerals and Hieroglyphics. First we met Archimedes in 214 BC, then went to Egypt to meet Cleopatra in 69 BC. Next to Rome to meet Julius Caesar in 48 BC who sent us to see the Viking Explorer, Eric the Red, in 991 AD. We then went to see William the Conqueror in 1066 AD who sent us on our way to see the Doctor’s old friend (and mine!) Winnie Churchill in 1940. We finally solved the Tablet of Skaro but it was a trap – the Daleks had kidnapped K-9! After some timey-wimey stuff we found him and we were safe from being blown to space smithereens. Yay!

After all that excitement I had some time to interview the children about their time in the TARDIS. I asked them what they thought when they first saw it and immediately two of them said ‘Amazed!’ at exactly the same time. Someone else said ‘Speechless!’. It was built in the school holidays so when they saw it, it was a real surprise.

They have learnt all different subjects in the TARDIS but it was built as part of a Space Topic. For English they travelled to space to write a description of a planet. For Maths they have had tests and learnt about Roman Numerals. They have visited the planet Kepler 452B which is 1400 light years away. It would take 26 million years to travel there if you didn’t have a TARDIS. Kepler 452B is 60 % bigger than earth and orbits around a star. Like Earth it is in the Goldilocks Zone which means that there could be life on there. To sum it up – they have learnt A LOT of stuff! I also told the pupils about Project Indigo, especially the filming locations I have visited in Dorset which was a surprise for them.

Then it was time for Assembly and I went along to support the school and see how different it was to my school. The classes are named after trees and there were only two at the Winterborne Whitechurch base. Certificates were handed out and pupils were rewarded for their achievements. The new First Aiders got to use their skills to help out the Headmaster Mr Barker.

Mr Payne in Dunbury Academy TARDIS
With Mr Payne – look behind me!

After assembly it was home time for the pupils and I got to interview Mr Payne. He built the TARDIS because he wants to inspire children and the first time they saw it they flew through the solar system! He has also built Hogwarts and Narnia style classrooms before.

Mr Payne has been a fan of Doctor Who since he was three and his favourite Doctor is Tom Baker because he grew up with him. If you need any proof he is dressed as the Fourth Doctor in his first photo! He is also a fan of David Tennant – and if you need any proof of that he did a Magic Show with him once for Children In Need!

I asked Mr Payne where he would like to go in time and space and he said he is happy right here, right now. He really likes his class and the school and wouldn’t want to change anything. If Mr Payne had to go somewhere he would choose to see the future. He said to imagine what it would be like for someone waking up after 20 years in a coma. I think it would be very confusing to see new pieces of technology at work, and it would very sad if people in your family had passed away.

Mr Payne could design the TARDIS as he was a helicopter designer once. The TARDIS was made in his garage over two weeks – the hardest part was collecting all the egg boxes for the walls, it took him months to get them! A friend of his helped build the console and donated the Doctor Who cardboard cut-outs from work.

I asked Mr Payne if the Headmaster Mr Barker was hesitant in saying yes to having a TARDIS at school or was he quick off the bat? He said that Mr Barker said yes immediately and that the TARDIS has had lots of support from all the staff, parents and children.

The Console at Dunbury Academy TARDIS
Where to next?

After I interviewed Mr Payne I had one last go in the TARDIS before I had to leave. The TARDIS is just Wow! I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone at Dunbury Academy for their hospitality. I felt so welcome and the staff and pupils were all really nice. It is a very friendly, cheerful school and I had a fantastic day.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my time at Dunbury Academy. In a few days something exciting is happening – Project Indigo is turning 2! I hope you will come back and read about my other adventures.

Goodbye!

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