Wolverhampton school opens new centre to help youngsters with special needs

A new specialist centre at a school in Wolverhampton set up to help youngsters with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has been opened.

Pupils George, 10, and Roxana, 11, with Jay Blades, mayor Greg Brackenridge, and headteacher Kate Jackson..
Pupils George, 10, and Roxana, 11, with Jay Blades, mayor Greg Brackenridge, and headteacher Kate Jackson..

TV star Jay Blades MBE, presenter of BBC One's The Repair Shop, officially unveiled The Ark at St Michael's CE Primary School in Tettenhall on Friday.

It is the city's 13th specialist resource centre or unit designed to enable more children and young people with SEND to be supported in mainstream education.

The Ark offers up to 16 places for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs, enabling youngsters to benefit from the education provided at the school.

It helps further address an existing demand issue which has meant some people with SEND have had to attend educational placements outside of the city, chiefs say.

Mr Blades said: "The Ark is all about giving everybody an equal start to their education. I never had the greatest start and The Ark is exactly what I needed when I was younger."

The Ark

Brenda Wile, Wolverhampton Council's deputy director of education, added: "The development of specialist resource hubs and units at schools across the city is a crucial component of our ongoing efforts to ensure that all children and young people with SEND receive the help and support they need to achieve.

"They provide pupils with specialist support, such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy or music therapy as appropriate."

Headteacher Kate Jackson said The Ark includes a nurture room, therapeutic spaces and sensory equipment – and they have an enhanced PSHE (personal, social, health and economic) curriculum tailored to individual pupils.

She said: "Children with social, emotional and mental health needs may experience a wide range of difficulties that manifest in many ways. These include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying behaviours that challenge.

“At The Ark, we aim to support children whose need provision that is not routinely found within mainstream educational settings. The evidence is compelling that providing a safe, nurturing, predictable and caring environment will support pupils' social, emotional and mental health development, and our provision has been designed with this in mind.

"However, core to all we do at The Ark are positive relationships; showing pupils that they matter and that genuinely emotionally investing in their development makes the most significant difference for them."

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