School opens up to 40 more SEND pupils

A new satellite special school has welcomed in more than 40 new pupils, following a major investment which has seen a site in North Yorkshire redeveloped for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

By Janet Harrison
Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 1:04 pm

Mowbray School, Ripon, has been created from the site of the city’s former Moorside Infant School and caters for primary-aged children in the local area.

Executive Headteacher, Jonathan Tearle said; “This has been a project four years in the making.

“We’re very fortunate we have a good, central location for the new site and it is set in lovely grounds.”

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Following a £723,000 investment from the County Council, it has been fitted with specialist facilities, including five newly equipped and fully refurbished classrooms, indoor and outdoor play and sensory equipment, calm rooms and a forest school set among trees within the grounds.

The new satellite special school – part of Mowbray School in Bedale - is part of the County Council’s current strategic plan for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in North Yorkshire, which involves developing more local provision for children and young people with SEND.

This enables them to remain in their own communities and families do not have to travel out of the county to get the specialist education they need.

The school, which opened two classrooms to 12 pupils last year, serves the Ripon, Harrogate, Boroughbridge and Knaresborough area and is a satellite of Mowbray School in Bedale.

There are now 42 pupils enrolled, which is set to increase in September when a sixth class opens.

Mr Tearle added: “We added play equipment into the grounds, developed a forest school and will be creating a bike track in summer.

“It’s a fabulous facility and one which we are very proud of – it’s such a credit to the dedication and work of our staff.

“It’s been nice seeing the school grow from 12 to 42 pupils over the last few months.

“Now we have five classrooms, rather than two, we can place children into more appropriate groups and with similar peers.

“Seeing how the children have benefited is fantastic. It’s been uplifting to see them exploring the playground and playing and developing friendships.”

He added that Ripon had benefitted from the development of the school.

“We have created significant additional jobs in Ripon,” said Mr Tearle.

“We employ about 30 staff here and when we open up the kitchens in September we will be employing kitchen staff.

“To be contributing to the local economy as well is fantastic.”

Mowbray School recently put in an application to build a Rebound Therapy Centre at the site, where children can take part in sequenced actions on trampolines with staff members to improve their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Over summer a cycle track will be installed where children can ride their adapted bikes and trikes.

Jonathan Tearle said they were looking forward to showing parents, carers and families around the new facilities when lockdown restrictions were eased further.

“Parents have believed in us as we progressed with this project,” he said.

“They had a tour of the building before it was renovated, but then lockdown happened and meetings with parents and the look around had to be moved online. It will be wonderful for them to see their children in their school and the fantastic facilities we have here.”

The increase in the number of children with social emotional and mental health needs and those with communication and interaction needs is part of a national trend.

Coun Patrick Mulligan, Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: “Our aspirations remain high for children and young people with SEND in North Yorkshire and, despite the significant funding challenges, we are continuing to develop the range of provision needed now and in the future, to ensure children can be educated within their own communities.”