The pupils and staff of St Mary’s School and College welcomed a special guest on Wednesday (April 19).
The Countess of Wessex formally opened the Aspire Vocational Centre at St Mary’s and had the opportunity to see other recent developments at the school including the Assessment and interim Placement Centre and newly refurbished Key Stage 2 classrooms.
The Countess met pupils, staff and governors at St Mary’s and enjoyed lunch in the Aspire centre café.
Amanda Clugston, consultant principal, said: “All the pupils and staff were very excited by The Countess’ visit with some very special moments made and which they will always treasure.”
The Aspire Vocational Centre is a unique ‘shopping mall’ which includes a café, car wash, general store and hairdressers, offering vocational, academic, employment and social skills training for children who have speech, language and communication difficulties and other complex needs.
The Assessment and Interim Placement Centre provides tailored and distinct education, therapy and support to children who may require more time and support before moving on to a permanent setting, which may be in a mainstream school or a specialist setting.
Ms Clugston, added: “Everyone at St Mary’s has worked so hard over the last few years to put us in the good position we are in now.
“Our residential care provision was recently judged Good by Ofsted and we have made significant improvements in all other aspects of our provision.
“We are confident that in our next Ofsted, we will be able to achieve good with some outstanding features.
“Children with additional needs deserve a start in life that supports them properly and they can get this at St Mary’s.
“We are so grateful for the interest and support shown to us by The Countess of Wessex. Her visit recognises the success of this innovative approach taken by St Mary’s in supporting all children to achieve their potential and live as independently as possible.”