Words & pics by Ed King
Work is well underway to transform the old Osborne School Infant School on Station Road into a new satellite site for Queensbury School sixth formers called New Horizons – catering for young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND).
Scheduled to open in September this year, New Horizons will have 11 state-of-the-art classrooms, a canteen, a sports hall, offices, a therapy room, a sensory room, and a pastoral mentors hub – in an ambitious new build costing around £5million.
In a prime location to support students preparing for adulthood and greater independence, accessible by neighbouring bus and train routes, the new provision will be “equipped with everything they (students) need to accelerate their learning and move closer towards realising their next steps”, told a spokesperson from Queensbury School.
The facility for 16–19 year olds will welcome up to 96 students with Autism, Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD), Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD) and speech and language needs.
The Head of Centre, Mrs Bushra Adnan, told Erdington Local: “We are excited about the opportunities that will be available to all, and to start networking with local businesses to secure brighter futures and prospects for all our stakeholders.”
Mr Chris Wilson, Queensbury Executive Headteacher, added: “LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION… Our students will have access to good travel networks, a high street for work experience opportunities, leisure facilities close by, and vocational partnerships with the SEND sixth form.
“Students will experience a building that has a more ‘adult feel’ yet is fully inclusive to their needs. It’s great to see a former derelict site, contributing back to the Erdington community, supporting our most vulnerable young people with their education.”
The SEND crisis over student placements is a challenge for local authorities across the country. In Birmingham, approximately 11,500 young people (aged 0–19) have an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) and need a specialty setting, such as Queensbury School.
New Horizons has been made possible after a successful business plan from Chris Wilson, with Birmingham City Council working closely with Queensbury School and the Education Impact Academy Trust to make it a reality.
Helen Ellis, Director of SEND and Inclusion at Birmingham City Council, said: “This is great news for young people and families in Erdington. There is a real challenge nationally for SEND places and this will provide much-needed extra provision for those with additional needs.
“Across the city and Council we are putting children at the heart of everything we do and our SEND and Inclusion strategies will ensure our children and young people are fully supported and included in all aspects of our community.
“New Horizons will be a fantastic facility for the Queensbury school community and I’d like to thank everyone involved.”
For more on Queensbury School visit www.queensburysch.com