Health & Fitness Somerset school which closed under county council reforms to reopen as specialist site

04:50  09 august  2022
04:50  09 august  2022 Source:   somersetlive.co.uk

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A Somerset school which was closed as part of controversial school reforms will be reopened to give vulnerable children and young people the support they need.

Misterton Church of England First School on A356 Middle Street in Misterton © Google Maps Misterton Church of England First School on A356 Middle Street in Misterton

Misterton Church of England First School, closed its doors as part of Somerset County Council's reforms to schools in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area, which were approved despite significant opposition from local parents. Since the decision was taken in March 2021, the council has been working with the Diocese of Bath and Wells to find an alternative use for the building, located on the A356 Middle Street.

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The council announced on Friday afternoon (August 5) that the building will provide "therapeutic education" to up to 15 vulnerable children and young people from September next year. While the Church of England will retain the building, the new services therein will be provided as part of the 'Homes and Horizons' partnership between the council, the NHS and Homes2inspire, which is part of the Shaw Trust.

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The Misterton site will be open for all but two weeks of every year, with the pupils attending for two to three days a week and spending the remaining time in mainstream schools. In addition to core subjects like maths and English, those attending will be offered drama and arts therapy, along with more conventional therapy and counselling sessions, with both teachers and social workers operating on-site.

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Councillor Tessa Munt, portfolio holder for children’s services, said: "Homes and Horizons will help our most vulnerable young people have a place to feel safe, live and learn, where they are listened to, cared for and understood so they can grow and thrive. It will lead to them achieving better education results, better mental health and well-being and improved life chances.

"It’s great the decision has been made to use the former Misterton school site for a new chapter in improving young people’s lives and is a significant step in providing much needed specialist care." Up to £500,000 will be spent on refurbishing the Misterton site and a possible second facility which could open elsewhere in the county.

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The Right Reverend Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton, said: "We are delighted to be working with the council and to be able to continue our commitment to education on the Misterton School site with our first Church of England specialist education facility in Somerset. Every child deserves the opportunity to live life in all its fullness and we hope and pray that the care and education the children receive at the centre will help them, and their loved ones, enjoy a much brighter future."

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The council entered into a formal partnership with the Rugby-based Homes2inspire in June, based around the delivery of ten new children's homes across Somerset along with high needs foster care and therapeutic education services for the most vulnerable children in the county. Managing director Paul Cook said: "We are very pleased to have this facility to support young people with complex needs through education and into work in Somerset.

"The Shaw Trust is a recognised leader in education provision through our multi-academy Shaw Education Trust, founded to improve opportunities for disabled children into employment, and our training and skills division, Ixion, an Ofsted Grade 1 training provider. Misterton will enable us to provide the best therapeutic education for children that will improve their academic success and, arguably more importantly, their sense of well-being and self-worth, giving them the tools to achieve their potential."

Andrew Keefe, NHS Somerset's deputy director of commissioning for mental health, autism and learning disabilities, added: "The development of the Misterton site to support some of our most vulnerable young people in Somerset is a critical first step. It is vitally important that we support these young people to succeed and be the best they can be, which can be achieved through supporting them to get a good education and thereby supporting their emotional well-being and mental health.

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"By developing a special facility, which is tailored to meet their needs is a critical first step in our ambition to improving the lives and mental well-being of children and young people in the county." The Misterton site is expected to open for pupils by early-September 2023. A second site, whose location is yet to be decided, could open in September 2024.


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usr: 2
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