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Chief executive discusses Newbury Park special school build

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 March 2020

Louise Parr, chief executive of Astrum Multi-Academy Trust.  Picture: Michael Cox

Louise Parr, chief executive of Astrum Multi-Academy Trust. Picture: Michael Cox

Archant

Building work is under way on a new special school in Newbury Park - and the chief executive of the school’s trust Louise Parr gave the Recorder the latest on the project.

A CGI showing how the front of Hatchside School will look when it is complete. Picture: Rock Townsend Architects LLPA CGI showing how the front of Hatchside School will look when it is complete. Picture: Rock Townsend Architects LLP

Hatchside School is being constructed on land at the William Torbitt Primary School site in Aldborough Road North.

It will cater for two to seven-year-olds and focus on assessing and early intervention for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The school is due to open in April 2021 for the first 32 pupils, before fully opening in 2023/4.

Louise, chief executive of Astrum Multi Academy Trust, said the school will tackle a growing need for provision for SEND children.

A CGI of what the rear of Hatchside School will look like when it is finished. Picture: Rock Townsend Architects LLPA CGI of what the rear of Hatchside School will look like when it is finished. Picture: Rock Townsend Architects LLP

“Redbridge Council has been doing a lot of tracking and there is a huge increase of special educational needs in Redbridge and that is growing. The predictions are that this will continue to grow and that’s at all age ranges.

“There’s a lot of building going on in Redbridge, so the population is going up. Of that population, a percentage are going to require very specialist input. So that’s one of the reasons they looked at the school in the first place.

“The planning has been going on for this since 2016 and the trends they are seeing are coming to fruition so it will add to provision.”

Once fully open, the school will have 64 places and, of those, 16 will be assessment places where the children will spend time at the school before a decision is made on whether they will remain, return to a mainstream school or go elsewhere.

Louise Parr, chief executive of Astrum Multi-Academy Trust.  Picture: Michael CoxLouise Parr, chief executive of Astrum Multi-Academy Trust. Picture: Michael Cox

“The sort of children we are talking about will probably be struggling intensively if they are in a mainstream environment - we are not talking about children where they need a bit of extra support. For them, the assessment means they are going to get all of that support on a much more regular basis with much smaller class sizes.

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“The input and working with the pupil is going to be much more intense and give them a lot more opportunity.”

The school will include facilities such as a specialist immersive sensory room, a soft play room, a specialist PE hall and an arts space as well as one to one areas and work rooms.

A CGI showing how the front of Hatchside School will look when it is complete. Picture: Rock Townsend Architects LLPA CGI showing how the front of Hatchside School will look when it is complete. Picture: Rock Townsend Architects LLP

Louise is also executive headteacher of the trust’s other school, Newbridge, split into upper and lower campuses in Barley Lane, Goodmayes and Gresham Drive, Chadwell Heath respectively.

The school has been rated Outstanding by Ofsted for the past 10 years and Louise said that refusing to rest on their laurels was a key part of their success.

“Never sitting back and thinking ‘we are outstanding’. As soon as the inspectors are gone, you are still moving on the next day.

“There’s always so many new strategies that you can bring to bear. I think it’s constantly looking forward, thinking ‘we are doing that brilliantly but how can we do it better?’”

She has worked at schools in Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham, and spoke of “how rewarding” working with SEND children is.

“It’s something where you do make a difference to the children and you become quite specialised in your knowledge and your development. But, at the end of the day, these are just children and young people. It’s about enabling those children to just be children and to develop the way other children do, albeit in a different time frame or using different strategies.”

With the demand for SEND provision continuing to increase, Louise revealed the trust may look to expand even further in future.

But for the time being, the end aim is to see Hatchside completed on schedule next April.

“For us, it’s just about making sure that build gets finished on time, handed over and enable us to get in, ready to go.”

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