Special school opens new facilities for county’s most vulnerable pupils
- Credit: Jessica Coppins
Norfolk’s oldest special school has unveiled new facilities to replace cold leaky mobile classrooms, transforming the education of some of the county’s most vulnerable youngsters.
The Clare School on South Park Avenue in Norwich looks after complex needs pupils with medical and physical disabilities, most of whom are non verbal and wheelchair users and have life limiting or life-threatening conditions.
Originally set up as an ‘Open air school’ in 1906 and converted to gazebo-like more permanent structures in 1926, its buildings have been in urgent need of modernisation as they take increasing numbers of pupils with more complex needs.
Improvements have seen modern classrooms and facilities, funded as part of Norfolk County Council’s special needs transformation project, officially opened by Norwich Lord Mayor Vaughan Thomas and Sheriff Dr Marian Prinsley.
Headteacher Rebecca Wicks said: “This has been a long time coming. We desperately needed modernisation, and this is brilliant. It has flat access, overhead hoisting and climate-controlled air conditioning, it is bright, it is just what we needed.
“Before we had an old mobile building that was condemned and was leaking and cold.
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“This gives us so much more space. To have hoisting in the classroom gives all of our pupils' dignity because they can come out of their wheelchairs.
“Most of our children’s medical conditions mean they cannot regulate their body temperatures, so the air conditioning will be life-changing with fewer seizures.”
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The school, which has 120 staff, plans improvements to its art room this summer and is fundraising to install new sensory rooms, a soft playroom, accessible changing rooms and to improve our nursery provision with the number of pupils set to rise from 105 to 120 in September.
Pupils, aged from three to 19, attend from all over the county with some travelling from as far as Downham Market, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth.
Trevor Wang, vice-chair of governors, said: “When I became a governor 15 years ago the cohort was very different and essentially the classrooms haven’t changed that much, so we needed these new facilities.”
Chair of governors Linda Scase-Jones said: “A lot of our classrooms don’t have the facilities we need for our children. Younger pupils coming through now are increasingly more complex. So, it is really important that we can improve facilities and can generate funding to continue improving.”