A Derby school has unveiled a new centre for children with special educational needs (SEND) after a damning Government report concluded the city does not do enough for those students.
St Giles School, Derby’s only special primary school, has officially revealed its new provision which will provide extra places for SEND children in the city.
The new centre will be situated in a building between Derbyshire County Cricket Club and the Racecourse which was formerly a Viking museum and adult daycare centre.
The hub-style building has been converted into a new service called The Hive, which will cater for approximately 30 children with special educational needs.
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This development comes after a joint report by Government inspectors Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission in 2019 found “significant weaknesses” in how Derby was implementing reforms to its special educational needs provision.
Councillor Evonne Williams, Derby City council cabinet member for children and young people, promised change.
And, as a result, The Hive was created and will come under the leadership of St Giles School, the Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ special school in Hampshire Road, just a short walk away.
St Giles, part of the Spencer Academies Trust, will now be able to offer places for 130 primary school children with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) plan over its two city-centre sites.
The school has received ongoing support from its governors, the Trust, Derby City Council and Parents & Carers Together; an independent, non-political group of volunteers, funded by the Department for Education, which represents parents and carers of children and young people with SEND in the city.
Tom Few, who joined St Giles five years ago and is now the leader of The Hive, said: “The Hive is a collaborative approach to catering for children with SEND – and their parents/carers in Derby city – and I am absolutely delighted to be involved in this school development.
“So much time, effort and hard work has gone into getting The Hive ready for our pupils. There have been many challenges, especially over the past few months when work completely stopped due to Coronavirus.
“Staff have been working on The Hive during their spare time, creating pathways in the woods which will form our on-site Forest School.
“We have been working on The Hive for just over two years and it has been completely transformed into a modern, spacious and, most importantly, safe environment in which our pupils can continue to thrive.”
Clive Lawrence, executive headteacher of St Giles School, added: “For some time now, the school has been significantly oversubscribed and has been, on many occasions, the first choice for parents/carers of children in Derby city with SEND.
“Naturally, we wanted to expand the current school building but, due to access restrictions and a lack of outside space, this wasn’t possible.
“In being creative and thinking outside the box, we brought together a range of strategic partners to develop a different concept so that the school can continue to offer more places for children with SEND in Derby city.”
The Hive boasts a dining area for children, a spacious learning kitchen, on-site Forest School, learning intervention room and three classrooms; Harry Potter class, BFG class and Iron Giant class.
The classrooms all have access to the huge outdoor learning space, where there are picnic benches and swings. Plans are being discussed to mark out an 11-a-side football pitch on-site, so that the school PTA football team – which has raised thousands of pounds for various projects for St Giles – can play charity matches at The Hive.
It is hoped that the school can continue to build on relationships already established with mainstream schools and organisations in the city by sharing the facilities, particularly the Forest School, on offer at The Hive.
Cllr Williams joined Mr Lawrence, Mr Few, Andy Smith – strategic director of people service at Derby City Council – and Pauline Anderson OBE, who is director of Learning and Skills for Derby City Council – Paula Nightingale, head of inclusion at Derby City Council, for a socially-distanced official opening today (June 17).
The quintet were also joined by Angela O’Brien, from Spencer Academies Trust, Jakk Capewell, a teacher at St Giles and Forest School leader, Rachel Rule and Becky Barker, from Parents and Carers Together, and St Giles School governors Katy Elliott and Steve Workman for a balloon release to mark the occasion.
Cllr Williams said: “The Hive is a truly collaborative approach, a glowing example of real partnership working well. I’m very excited by the opening of The Hive and know that it will already enhance what St Giles School has to offer.”