Two of Cumbria’s special schools are set to expand with confirmation of a nearly £1m investment from Cumbria County Council.
New 6th Form facilities will be created for Whitehaven’s Mayfield School and Carlisle’s James Rennie School, allowing Mayfield to increase from 197 to 230 places and James Rennie to increase from 159 to 195.
Sam Kidd, Headteacher at Mayfield School said: “This joint venture allows the very best opportunities for the young people of Mayfield. The location is in the centre of a thriving community with extensive community links and amazing grounds and planned facilities.
“Our young people will be able to access meaningful workplace and volunteering links as well as being able to be fully prepared for independent life opportunities such as accessing public transport, libraries, cafes etc. Mayfield Governors are delighted with this new chapter in the life of the school and our pupils, staff and parents have been overwhelmingly supportive.”
The new facilities are being created away from the existing schools.
Mayfield’s new 6th form will occupy St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Cockermouth, which is due to close in August, while in Carlisle St Edmund’s Church on Orton Road will be given new purpose meeting the needs of young people with special educational needs.
Both sites will be leased from the Diocese of Lancaster by Cumbria County Council.
Councillor Sue Sanderson, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools and Education, said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to commit this money to develop these new 6th form facilities.
“It’s so important that we create more space in our special schools and this is an innovative way of doing that.
“The new 6th forms will provide bespoke facilities for older children to help them prepare for the next steps into adult life and wherever that might take them.
“I’m excited to see them take shape and certain they will make a huge positive difference to pupil’s lives.”
With increasing demand for special school places, the expansions create much needed additional capacity at both schools while providing fantastic new facilities which will help young people reaching the end of their time at school develop and prepare for adult life.
Works are planned to start on both sites soon and are expected to be completed by early 2023.
As an interim measure while St Edmund’s is being developed, two temporary classrooms will be installed on the James Rennie site to allow more pupils to attend as soon as possible.