A new ‘eco-classroom’ has been opened at a Leicestershire School as part of a £30m scheme to improve provision for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the county.
The Den is a new cedar-clad hub at Forest Way School in Coalville which can provide a space for up to 12 pupils with communication and interaction needs.
The £341,000 scheme has been funded by Leicestershire County Council as part of its programme to provide additional specialist ‘resource bases’ at mainstream schools and new special schools.
We are delighted that this wonderful space is now open. It’s a lovely, light, welcoming building and a great place for our young people to work and learn in.
This is part of our ongoing work to increase and improve the provision we have here in Leicestershire for our young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
We’re determined to do all we can to transform lives and educational opportunities for children, and I know this new facility will be appreciated by the pupils, parents and staff who use it.Person:Deborah Taylor, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for children and families
One of the first pupils to attend The Den said ‘I like coming to the Den because I like swimming and forest schools and I like being with my friends.’
A parent said “Since coming to Forest Way he has amazed me. He wants to come to school every day, his confidence has grown, he has leant more than I ever expected and he is a different child.”
The Den, constructed by T G Escapes Ltd based in Coventry has an ‘A’ energy rating, meaning it’s super energy efficient, and uses ‘smart lighting’, renewable energy and sun pipes. It is also designed to allow easy free-flow access between the outdoors and indoors.
Andrew Bridgen MP opened The Den; enjoyed chatting with the pupils and staff and even joined in with a football penalty shoot out.
The building is the second SEND provision to be built at the school in recent years – the council supported with the funding of an extension in 2019 to take 12 extra pupils.
The council has committed to investing more than £30m in SEND provision and so far created 570 places across the county.
It also strives to make sure its developments are sustainable and use renewable power. The authority has committed to being carbon neutral by 2030.
Overall, the SEND programme comprises 35 schemes. These include:
- 19 new resource bases in mainstream schools for pupils having SEMH and C&I needs
- 3 new schools – 80 place Fusion C&I Academy in Barwell, 60 place Foxfields SEMH Academy in Blaby, and 60 place Bowman SEMH Academy in Shepshed (to be built by DfE for opening September 2023)
- 2 new locations for Oakfield Short Stay School in Earl Shilton and Shepshed
- A new post 16 provision in Loughborough (Block K at Charnwood College)
- 7 expansion projects for all existing Leicestershire special schools
- 2 satellite classroom facilities run by existing special schools on nearby mainstream school sites.
- 1 new specialist pre-school in Melton and expansion of the Wigston Menphys Nursery.