Planned new special educational needs school to ease pressure on places

By Ben Fitzgerald - 23 January 2019

CommunityCollege & Higher EducationEducationSecondary

Plans have been submitted to build a permanent site for a recently opened secondary school for pupils with special educational needs.

Churchward School opened in temporary accommodation in Lydiard Millicent in September 2018 and is set to move to its permanent site in North Swindon in September 2019. 

If given the green light by Swindon Borough Council planners, the new facility, which will also provide sixth form places, will be built on a site off William Morris Way in Tadpole Garden Village.

Head teacher Dave Dearsley said: “Churchward School is built on the foundations of “Recognising strengths, gaining skills, achieving success”, something which runs through everything we do and I am extremely excited about the role this school will play in supporting our pupils realise their full potential.

The school was approved by the Department of Education in 2016 and opened its doors in September 2018 to provide secondary and sixth form places for students with autism and associated social communication difficulties.

All Churchward School staff are committed to enabling our pupils to overcome their challenges through supporting their social development and their academic and vocational learning. This is achieved through bespoke curriculum and therapeutic packages designed around each pupil as an individual.”

Churchward School will become a work-related learning venue for Uplands Educational Trust with the primary purpose of providing work skills opportunities.

The school is part of the Brunel Special Educational Needs Multi-Academy Trust – a multi academy trust specialising in the special school sector. As a Free School, it will be directly funded from the Government, allowing it to operate independently from the local authority and the national curriculum.

In Swindon, provision for pupils with special educational needs is at full capacity, with significant additional pressure predicted over the next few years. It is hoped that Churchward School, which could provide places for up to 75 children, will help to meet this demand.

A recent week-long report into special educational needs provision in the town, by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission, found that greater provision was needed as a matter of urgency.

Staff will be selected for their empathy and ability to manage potentially challenging and vulnerable students to help provide personalised learning opportunities for the youngsters.

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