Specialist status for Ipswich school

AN IPSWICH school has today announced it is to apply to be in the top tier of special schools in the UK. Beacon Hill School, in Stone Lodge Lane West, in the Chantry area of Ipswich, is to submit a bid to gain specialist status as a school which promotes excellent practice for pupils with complex communication needs-joining just 26 other schools with such status in Britain.

AN IPSWICH school has today announced it is to apply to be in the top tier of special schools in the UK.

Beacon Hill School, in Stone Lodge Lane West, in the Chantry area of Ipswich, is to submit a bid to gain specialist status as a school which promotes excellent practice for pupils with complex communication needs-joining just 26 other schools with such status in Britain.

The school teaches 160 pupils, aged five to 16, with a range of addition needs including Down's syndrome, Aspersers syndrome, Autism, Tourette's syndrome as well as children with child protection issues and social disadvantages.

Headteacher David Stewart, who joined the school in 1997, said the school currently enjoys leading edge status, disseminating its specialist knowledge to the wider community of schools in the county.


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He added: “We are already specialists in helping schools help children overcome complex communication needs. Obtaining specialist status would not only mean extra funding for Beacon Hill but also a celebration of the successful development of the school.”

To qualify for specialist status the school must raise £50,000 to demonstrate its links and support from the community, Mr Stewart added.

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He said: “We would like to put forward our bid to the department of education and skills (DfES) in March 2007. “Opportunities for our children post 16 are not successful at the moment in creating employment and we want them to be more engaged in the community.”

Mr Stewart said the school's specialism would also help raise aspirations and expectations of students.

He added: “We are approaching major businesses in Ipswich to support our bid not just to help raise money but also as part of a strategy to create employment so youngsters can avoid the benefit trap.

“The usual rites of passage of leaving home, getting a job and then getting a flat do not seem to happen for these youngsters and we want to focus on reaching out to the business community to ensure all children with complex communication needs are valued members of the community and there is no reason why they shouldn't be.”

Would you like to find out how your business can be involved in Beacon Hill's bid for specialist status? The school will be officially launching its bid for specialist status at a golf day at Hintlesham Hall Golf Club.

For more information contact the school on 01473 601175.

What do you think of Beacon Hill's bid to become a specialist school? Do you have a child at the school? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Weblink www.beaconhillschool.co.uk

NAS - the national autistic society www.nas.org.uk

0.2 per cent of the Suffolk population of students (100,000 children) are in schools like Beacon Hill.

What specialist status will mean.

Specialist schools receive two sorts of additional funding:

£100,000 for a capital project to enhance the facilities in the subjects related to the school's specialism; and recurrent funding of £129 per pupil per year for four years to implement their specialist school development plan.

In addition to the £100,000 capital grant the school itself must raise £50,000 in sponsorship towards the capital project.

Source www.standards.dfes.gov.uk

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