'It's the dream becoming a reality' - SEND school appoints head

Artist images of Woodbridge Road Academy

The new special education needs school will offer 60 places for pupils aged 9-16 - Credit: Lena O'Shea

The first principal of a new school in Ipswich says "no stone will be left unturned" for its future SEND pupils to lead successful lives ahead of its consultation in the new year.

Naomi Shenton, the current assistant principal of Ipswich Academy, has spoken of her excitement to take on the role at Woodbridge Road Academy, which aims to open next autumn.

She said: "I'm really excited to take on this role - the project itself is a really brilliant opportunity for the young people of Suffolk. It's brilliant to have been involved in it, I've really enjoyed the set up, and it's great that I now get to be in the position to see it through to having pupils. It's the dream becoming a reality. 

"The plan is to leave no stone unturned for individual pupils to ensure that they can go on to lead successful lives. Some students are likely to go on and do GCSEs, but we're planning to adapt the curriculum where necessary, with an additional push on communication and interaction skills and life skills."

Artist image of Woodbridge Road Academy

Woodbridge Road Academy is proposed to be built on a vacant site on Woodbridge Rd, Ipswich - Credit: Lena O’Shea

The appointment comes ahead of a consultation on the plans for the new school, which will run between December 6 and January 14. 

The school aims to open in September 2022, but is awaiting a decision from Ipswich Borough Council's planning committee, who deferred a decision in November due to road access concerns.

Mrs Shenton, who has been project managing the development since October 2020, added: "The real key is that pupils go on to lead independent, successful lives." 

Artist images of Woodbridge Road Academy

The consultation will be open until January 14 - Credit: Lena O’Shea

The new school is the result of a partnership between Suffolk County Council and Paradigm Trust, and is proposed to be built on a vacant site on Russet Road. 

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It has been specifically designed for pupils with communication and interaction needs, to give them the focused support they need to help them fulfil their potential. It will offer 60 places for pupils aged 9-16. 

Bill Holledge, chief executive of Paradigm Trust, said: "Naomi has been involved with Woodbridge Road Academy from its inception and we are delighted to give her the opportunity to continue her work as principal.  

"Her experience, skills and great passion for supporting pupils with interaction and communication needs make her the ideal person for this position." 

As part of the consultation, a virtual event will be held on December 14 at 5pm. 

People can have their say and find out more about the school on its website.

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