Headteacher feeling 'honoured' ahead of new special school's opening

Cromer Academy History Teacher and Vice Principal Robert Speck.
Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Robert Speck, head of school at the Duke of Lancaster in Fakenham - Credit: Archant

The headteacher of a new special school in Fakenham has revealed his excitement ahead of its grand opening. 

Robert Speck said he felt "lucky and honoured" to be at the helm of the Duke of Lancaster (DoL), which is due to welcome students from January 4. 

The school will cater for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) from across Norfolk. 

Staff outside the new Duke of Lancaster special school in Fakenham

Staff outside the new Duke of Lancaster special school in Fakenham - Credit: SENDAT

Mr Speck, who spent the majority of his 16-year career at Cromer Academy, before moving to another special school, The Wherry in Norwich, admitted he cannot wait to get started. 

"When I applied for the Wherry School, I thought it was a once-in-a-career opportunity to be part of establishing a brand new special school," he said.

"In October last year, this new advert for the DoL went out and I thought 'I need to find out whether the school's vision and values will align with my own'. 

"They did, and I feel incredibly lucky and honoured to have been a successful candidate."

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The DoL is being run by SENDAT, a multi-academy trust which supports a range of people with special educational needs aged between five and 25.

From left to right: Lewis Hambling, Prospective Student, Alex Mackay, Construction Director at R G C

Head of school Robert Speck (right) with prospective students at a tree-planting ceremony at the Duke of Lancaster in Fakenham - Credit: R G Carter

To begin with it will welcome 48 pupils, before the number rises to 100.

While bosses initially thought the school would mainly serve north Norfolk, youngsters will, in reality, be travelling from across the county. 

"The profile of need is quite specific, so it is more determined by the needs of young people than it is by the location," said SENDAT chief executive, Lawrence Chapman. 

"Although the catchment area is Norfolk, we intend to be an active part of the Fakenham community and establish links with any organisations we can to enhance our offer to students."

Mr Speck added: "The building itself is an incredible space. We have had visitors saying 'my expectations were high but this has surpassed them'. 

Lewis Hambling on the left and Joseph Bunn on the right at the Duke of Lancaster school in Fakenham.

Prospective students at a tree-planting ceremony at the Duke of Lancaster in Fakenham - Credit: R G Carter

"The bricks and mortar are not what makes the school, however. That will be the staff, the pupils and the parents.

"The ultimate aim for me is to provide young people with freedom of choice, and to equip them with the skills and knowledge they require for the rest of their lives. 

"These children have the potential to really add to society. They just need the right environment to unlock that potential."

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