PHOTO: Futura Learning Partnership’s chief executive Andrea Arlidge, board chair Malcolm Broad, and SEND executive lead Julie Dyer with the Mayor of Bath Councillor June Player and the headteacher of Aspire Academy Peter Headeach at the official opening of the revamped school.
A £2.2m redevelopment at Aspire Academy in Bath means that more of the area’s most vulnerable children and young people will be able to receive the education and support they need.
The school has been expanded and refurbished so it can offer places for up to 120 pupils, aged four to 19, who have complex needs.
The new facilities include therapy and sensory spaces as well as specialist provision for art, drama and music, design technology and cooking, and vocational facilities such as a hairdressing salon and a construction unit.
This increased range of opportunities is important for the students at Aspire, many of whom have challenging backgrounds that have led to negative experiences of education.
The school’s approach, backed by research into trauma and attachment, is to develop the whole child, building self esteem and confidence and removing barriers to learning.
Headteacher Peter Headeach said: “Staff work hard to build strong, positive relationships and model positive attitudes and behaviours. This provides an environment where the children can feel safe, supported, and ready to learn.
“Through the curriculum, students can develop their social and communication skills as well as their ability to regulate their emotions through learning activities that are broad and engaging.
“The choice of courses, support offered by staff and broader opportunities offered by this expansion mean children and young people at Aspire have never had such a fantastic opportunity succeed as they do today.”
The expansion of Aspire Academy, which is run by the academy trust Futura Learning Partnership, was funded by Bath & North East Somerset Council and approved by the Regional Schools Commissioner. The redevelopment project was led by Tim Howes, the trust’s chief operating officer, and Julie Dyer, the trust’s executive lead for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), with site supervisor Gerry Mitchell.
The completed facilities were officially opened in March by the Mayor of Bath, Councillor June Player. The vice chair of B&NES Council, Councillor Shaun McGall Stephenson and the cabinet member for children & young people, Councillor Dine Romero, also attended,
Andrea Arlidge, chief executive of Futura Learning Partnership, said: “This is a much needed provision for children and young people experiencing social, emotional and mental health difficulties and other conditions such as autism. We are very grateful to B&NES Council for providing the funding that will help Aspire to provide the education, support and encouragement its pupils need”.
“Futura Learning Partnership is very proud of Aspire Academy. It does an amazing job in supporting and nurturing children and young people who find school and education a challenge and it makes a very valuable contribution across our trust as a member of our family of schools.
“When Aspire joined our trust in 2014, as The Link School, it was a 22-place school. Since that time, Aspire has expanded and now offers places for 80 children aged 4-19 with complex needs. From September 2022, the school will be able to offer 120 places.
“We are grateful to the staff and pupils for their fortitude during the building process and we are delighted that they are rewarded with these fantastic, state-of-the-art facilities that will support these children’s engagement with education and help to prepare them for a successful adult life.”