The Countess of Wessex will be coming to Bexhill today (Wednesday, April 19) to officially open a new vocational centre at St Mary’s Special School and College.
Her Royal Highness Sophie, the patron of St Mary’s, will officially open the Aspire Vocational Centre – a new provision that provides an exciting curriculum and work experience opportunities for college aged pupils.
Believed to be the only project of its kind in the country, it is an innovative ‘shopping mall’ which aims to offer young people with learning difficulties the chance to gain work experience and improve their social skills.
St Mary’s transformed former classrooms into the vocational centre which includes a café, car wash, hair salon pop up shop, bank, general stores and laundrette.
Plans for a print room and photographic studio are underway.
The Aspire Centre is managed by a dedicated team of staff and run by college students.
During her visit to St Mary’s, the Countess will also tour the school and college in Wrestwood Road and will visit the Interim Assessment and Placement Centre and the Key Stage 2 Centre.
Consultant principal Amanda Clugston said the royal visit will crown a raft of good news at St Mary’s which was praised for its ‘inspirational leadership’ and received a resounding ‘Good’ from Ofsted for its residential provision last year.
Ms Clugston said: “The Aspire project is a fantastic innovation of which we are hugely proud of and we believe it’s unique in the UK.
“It is the result of a lot of hard work on the part of teachers, staff, parents, governors and the Interim Management Board, and we’re delighted that it is due to receive the royal seal of approval.”
St Mary’s School and College, founded in 1922, is part of The Talking Trust, a registered charity.
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