Special school opens new facilities for county’s most vulnerable pupils

Norwich Lord Mayor Vaughan Thomas and Sheriff Dr Marian Prinsley look around new classrooms at The Clare School.

Norwich Lord Mayor Vaughan Thomas and Sheriff Dr Marian Prinsley look around new classrooms at The Clare School. - Credit: Jessica Coppins

Norfolk’s oldest special school has unveiled new facilities to replace cold leaky mobile classrooms, transforming the education of some of the county’s most vulnerable youngsters.

The Clare School on South Park Avenue in Norwich looks after complex needs pupils with medical and physical disabilities, most of whom are non verbal and wheelchair users and have life limiting or life-threatening conditions.

Originally set up as an ‘Open air school’ in 1906 and converted to gazebo-like more permanent structures in 1926, its buildings have been in urgent need of modernisation as they take increasing numbers of pupils with more complex needs.

Improvements have seen modern classrooms and facilities, funded as part of Norfolk County Council’s special needs transformation project, officially opened by Norwich Lord Mayor Vaughan Thomas and Sheriff Dr Marian Prinsley.

The Clare School headteacher Rebecca Wicks.

The Clare School headteacher Rebecca Wicks. - Credit: Jessica Coppins

Headteacher Rebecca Wicks said: “This has been a long time coming. We desperately needed modernisation, and this is brilliant. It has flat access, overhead hoisting and climate-controlled air conditioning, it is bright, it is just what we needed.

“Before we had an old mobile building that was condemned and was leaking and cold.

The Clare School in Norwich has opened new classrooms and facilities to replace a cold leaky old mobile.

The Clare School in Norwich has opened new classrooms and facilities to replace a cold leaky old mobile. - Credit: Jessica Coppins


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“This gives us so much more space. To have hoisting in the classroom gives all of our pupils' dignity because they can come out of their wheelchairs.

“Most of our children’s medical conditions mean they cannot regulate their body temperatures, so the air conditioning will be life-changing with fewer seizures.”

Norwich Lord Mayor Vaughan Thomas and Sheriff Dr Marian Prinsley unveiling new classrooms at The Clare School.

Norwich Lord Mayor Vaughan Thomas and Sheriff Dr Marian Prinsley unveiling new classrooms at The Clare School. - Credit: Jessica Coppins

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The school, which has 120 staff, plans improvements to its art room this summer and is fundraising to install new sensory rooms, a soft playroom, accessible changing rooms and to improve our nursery provision with the number of pupils set to rise from 105 to 120 in September.

Pupils, aged from three to 19, attend from all over the county with some travelling from as far as Downham Market, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth.

Norwich Lord Mayor Vaughan Thomas and Sheriff Dr Marian Prinsley unveiling new classrooms at The Clare School.

Norwich Lord Mayor Vaughan Thomas and Sheriff Dr Marian Prinsley unveiling new classrooms at The Clare School. - Credit: Jessica Coppins

Trevor Wang, vice-chair of governors, said: “When I became a governor 15 years ago the cohort was very different and essentially the classrooms haven’t changed that much, so we needed these new facilities.”

Chair of governors Linda Scase-Jones said: “A lot of our classrooms don’t have the facilities we need for our children. Younger pupils coming through now are increasingly more complex. So, it is really important that we can improve facilities and can generate funding to continue improving.”

Trevor Wang, vice-chair of governors, and Linda Scase-Jones, chair of governors, with The Clare School head Rebecca Wicks

Trevor Wang, vice-chair of governors, and Linda Scase-Jones, chair of governors, with The Clare School headteacher Rebecca Wicks and pupil. - Credit: Jessica Wicks

 Linda Scase-Jones, chair of governors at The Clare School, with pupil in new classroom.

Linda Scase-Jones, chair of governors at The Clare School, with pupil in new classroom. - Credit: Jessica Coppins

The Clare School headteacher Rebecca Wicks with pupil Shannon.

The Clare School headteacher Rebecca Wicks with pupil Shannon. - Credit: Jessica Wicks

The Clare School in Norwich has opened new classrooms and facilities to replace a cold leaky old mobile.

The Clare School in Norwich has opened new classrooms and facilities to replace a cold leaky old mobile. - Credit: Jessica Coppins


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