An academy trust is celebrating a new era in supporting young people with special educational needs after launching a series of initiatives in Bury St Edmunds.
The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Academy Trust (SENDAT) has unveiled a new college for students aged 16 to 25 with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other complex needs, a classroom for a select number of pupils aged 10 to 14 with ASD and a new welcome centre.
The projects, which cost £270,000 in total, are the culmination of the first stage of work by SENDAT, of which Priory School and West Suffolk College are lead sponsors, to improve specialist provision for young people in Suffolk.
Lawrence Chapman, headteacher at Priory School, said: “This prepares the school and the trust well to support an increasingly diverse range of special and additional needs within the area.
“We’re delighted with the quality of the new buildings and provision which is the culmination of lots of hard work and collaborative working from a wide range of partners.
“This continues to support the outward looking aspirations of the trust and is the first stage of a new era for supporting families and young people with specialist needs.”
The trust’s new Angel Hill College, named after its location on Angel Hill, will work in partnership with Priory School, West Suffolk College and Suffolk County Council.
It will eventually cater for 20 students focusing on academic study and vocational work within the community with each student assigned their own bespoke educational package and will be on the college roll.
Mr Chapman said: “It’s about trying to further improve basic functional skills, English, maths and IT and develop those skills in real life situations within the community.”
After a period time at Angel Hill College, students could then go onto West Suffolk College, a work experience placement or supported employment.
The new small classroom at Priory School, in Mount Road, will cater for up to six young people who have ASD to ensure they can return to mainstream education for their GCSEs in Year 10. This has been called SENDAT Mount Road.
In addition, Priory has redeveloped the front of school to create a new welcome centre including a modern office for the administration team.
A new common room has also been built for sixth form students and LED lights installed throughout the school.
New staff have been employed for the initiatives with two part time teachers and two support staff at Angel Hill College.
There is also a new teacher and two new support staff at Mount Road.
The projects have been funded by the local authority and Priory with support from West Suffolk College.
Neil Kellett, chairman of directors for SENDAT, added: “We are delighted at this first stage of SENDAT contributing to the continuum of provision to support young people with special educational needs and disabilities in Suffolk.
“The board of SENDAT is clearly focused on providing quality provision for a wide range of student needs. To do this we need to work with partners and we are grateful for the work of West Suffolk College and Suffolk County Council to support making some of our ideas a reality.
“We have worked extremely hard to develop a high quality staff team and buildings. We expect that in the years that lie ahead we will demonstrate further outstanding results.”