Sidestrand Hall School marks 60 years of learning in style

Where the croquet lawn once stood there is now a go-kart track and pupils are able to enjoy woodland walks and activities rather than keeping livestock.

Sidestrand Hall School marked its Diamond Jubilee anniversary in style on Wednesday as pupils and staff from the past and the present joined forces to look back on the history of the school, which since 1950 has been helping children with special needs, and take part in a range of activities from kite-making to 1950s style cooking in the classrooms.

Sarah Macro, who has been head at the school for eight years, says a lot has changed since Sidestrand Hall, which was once owned by Samuel Hoare who was MP for Norwich in 1886, and was also once a methodist holiday home, became a special needs school 60 years ago in 1950.

Currently the school has 110 pupils aged between seven and 16, around 20 of whom are part-time boarders who stay at the school during the week.

Mrs Macro said: 'In the early years there were around 150 pupils, all of whom were year-round borders who would sleep in dormitories. The school also kept livestock such as pigs and chickens.

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'Now we have boarders, but they stay here just for the week and they have their own rooms and living spaces with a lounge and kitchen, and although we do have an emphasis on horticulture and gardening, we have had to draw the line at keeping pigs and chickens' she jokes.

She says there is also a vast different in the way they teach children.

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She said: 'Back when the school first opened children came here to be cared for rather than to learn. Today we deal with children a range of complex needs and who have a range of learning difficulties.

'The children gain qualifications from being here, they follow the National Curriculum and work for their GCSEs, we have 100pc of pupils go on to college.

'Also, in the past the school was seen as something separate, now we have become very much a part of the community. '

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