Purpose-built school prepares for new term after £4.5m project

Cllr Kath Benson, Philip Thompson, head of service, special educational needs

A £4.5m purpose-built Blackpool school for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs is nearing completion and will be ready to take in its first pupils this month.

The main contractors, Preston-based Eric Wright Group special projects team, recently handed over the keys for Lotus School, situated on Langdale Road, to the Champion Education Trust in time for preparing the school for the Autumn term which opens to its first pupils on Friday, September 4.

The school has been purpose-built to accommodate students who have an education, health and care plan for social, emotional and mental health as their primary need. It has been carefully designed to ensure that students who have struggled accessing mainstream education are fully supported to succeed.

Lotus School caters for up to 48 students ranging from year six to year 11 and is the only school of its kind on the Fylde Coast.

This means its students will no longer have to travel out of the borough to access the special education they need.

All the students will have access to different curricular pathways which will deliver core subjects alongside therapeutic interventions that will help them to develop and re-engage with school life.

The state-of-the-art 19,375 sq ft building has been carefully designed to meet the needs of SEMH learners. Each of the six main teaching classrooms are smaller than in a traditional school, as class sizes will reflect the needs of individual learners.

Lotus School has a science lab, food technology lab, art and design rooms, a music space and sports hall.

There are also a number of dedicated sensory and therapy rooms for use by educational psychologists, speech and language teams and occupational therapists.

Students will also be able to develop their independent living skills in the Life Experience Flat, such as learning how to use a washing machine and budgeting for food and other bills, as well as using two specialist outdoor spaces.

There will also be opportunities for students to study off site and take part in outdoor educational activities, work experience, and community-based work.

Headteacher, Mrs Rachel Kenworthy, said: “I am delighted with our new state-of-the-art school and really excited to welcome our new students at the start of the September term.

“Every child, no matter what their starting point or background, has the right to an education that prepares them for adult life and Lotus School can provide them with the safety, stability and success that they need.”

Blackpool Council secured the full £4.5m funding needed for the school through the Free School Funds for Special Education Provision in 2017/2018 through the Department of Education.

Working in consultation with the Department of Education, the build was commissioned through a self-delivery model by Blackpool Local Education Partnership and Eric Wright Special Projects Team.

Cllr Kath Benson, cabinet member for schools, education and aspiration, said: “It is wonderful that we have a facility such as this in Blackpool that can nurture and support our young people and make a real difference to their start in life.”