Former Norwich community centre to become short-term school for children waiting for an education
A former community centre in Norwich is to be turned into a short-stay school for children waiting for an education.
Norfolk County Council has granted permission for Black Horse Community Centre - and the adjoining administration building - on Hooper Lane, to be transformed into teaching provision for 60 children.
The new facility, Lodestar, will be a registered independent school, offering children who are waiting for a place at the Short Stay School for Norfolk (SSSfN) full-time education until a spot is found.
The SSSfN, which is run by the Engage Trust, which will also oversee Lodestar, supports and educates children who have been permanently excluded or are unable to cope in mainstream education.
Over the last year, rising numbers of exclusions have seen the number of children in need of a spot at the SSSfN outweigh supply, leaving, at one point, dozens at home waiting for an education.
A spokesperson for the council said: “This is part of our strategy to ensure there are suitable places for children excluded from mainstream education. At the same time we are working with schools to try to support them to reduce exclusions.
“The new provision will support 60 children of primary and secondary age. It is temporary provision to ensure there is a seamless transfer onto the role of the SSSfN as places become available and children are reintegrated into mainstream provision, or provided with more appropriate complex, specialist or alternative provision to meet their needs.”
Planning documents say there will be “minor cosmetic external changes”, with garages converted into toilets at the site, off Sprowston Road.
Currently, Lodestar is in operation at Carrowbreck House in Hellesdon.
The planning papers said: “Norfolk is seeing a rise in the number of permanent exclusions across primary and secondary phases of provision.
“As such, as a direct result, the existing capacity has been maximised, and a series of measures have been put in place to manage a waiting list of children missing education due to permanent exclusion.”
They said Hooper Lane was the “only available site” to deliver the provision.