First pupils welcomed to the Kettlemere Centre in Ellesmere
The first pupils have been welcomed to the Kettlemere Centre at the Lakelands Academy in Ellesmere, which will provide a special educational needs centre for up to 24 secondary-age pupils whose primary need is communication and interaction.
Seven pupils have now started at the centre, with another seven due to join in September 2015.
The centre has been built as Shropshire previously had very limited specialist teaching provision to support pupils with communications and interaction difficulties.
Until now, these children often had to be placed out of county or travel considerable distances to access suitable provision.
Work on the Kettlemere Centre began in October 2014. It has been designed to be operated as an independent unit, and as such has its own drop-off area and entrance. However, it also links to the main academy building so opportunities are provided to allow integration of the pupils with the rest of the school.
Internally the centre comprises of four teaching areas, accessed from a central communal space. Apart from the classroom there is ancillary accommodation such as a multimedia room and therapy room along with an office, meeting room, toilets, storage and an external space for outdoor activities.
The new centre, which has been funded by Shropshire Council’s capital programme cost in the region of £1 million. The operating costs will be funded in the long-term through the reduction in expensive out-of-county placements.
Ann Hartley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children’s services, said:
“I’m delighted that the Kettlemere Centre is now open, and has welcomed its first pupils.
“This new centre will offer a number of benefits. It will improve localised provision for children within the communities in which they live, helping to meet their needs while reducing the significant cost to the council of placing pupils in costly out-of-county provision. This means that children can go to schools close to their friends and family.
“The Lakelands Academy has an excellent record of supporting pupils with Special Educational Needs. Careful consideration has been given as to how the centre will become part of the school, offering mainstream access where appropriate, rather than being a separate facility placed on the school site.”
Garry Dean, head of the Kettlemere Centre, said:
“The success of a project like this is down to the collaborative working of many different groups of people at every stage. By working in partnership with the staff and governors at Lakelands Academy we have created a high-quality, inclusive provision that ensures children can access a broad and balanced curriculum that is personalised to meet the needs of each child. The Kettlemere staff work closely with fellow professionals and families to provide the necessary support and structure required to make a difference to the lives of the children and to prepare them for an independent life as young adults.”
Shropshire Council is keen to develop this provision of localised support for pupils with special educational needs, and its impact on students and their families, to inform the future strategic rollout of this specialist provision in other locations across the county.