Whilst negotiations continue apace concerning our eventual location we have not been resting on our laurels. Over the last couple of months we have been visiting schools throughout the country and meeting with their Heads and staff to share ideas and forge relationships including:
Manor Green Special School in Cox Green Maidenhead, a highly successful school offering education and therapy for pupils with complex special educational needs aged 2 to 19. We met with Ania Hildrey, their wonderfully insightful and very experienced Head who had much wisdom and advice to impart. We were also very impressed by their state-of-the art new buildings and facilities, and we all agreed we could form a happy working relationship between our two organisations.
Then off to Scotland where we travelled by overnight sleeper to a tiny village called Butterstone and visited The New School (www.thenewschool.co.uk) where we were invited to join their 20 year anniversary celebrations. The New School is a small residential special school for children who find mainstream education overwhelming. As well as their Head we met with the founders Veronica and Magnus Linklater. The wonderfully happy atmosphere at the school is a testament to their vision and ambition to provide a safe haven for vulnerable children. We came away encouraged and enthused by a school that started with only eight pupils and very soon became a successful institution shortlisted for the TES Outstanding Special School of the Year 2011.
Most recently we visited the Mulberry Bush School in Standlake Oxfordshire (www.mulberrybush.org.uk), a residential school for traumatised children aged 5-13. Again, we met with Directors and key members of their staff and were extremely impressed with their empathic understanding of these deeply troubled children. The Mulberry Bush Organisation was started in 1948 by Barbara Docker-Drysdale who dedicated herself, with Dr Donald Winnicott, to understanding and finding ways of helping such children and is now recognised as a pioneer of therapeutic childcare. Her legacy lives on today.
We have learned a lot from all of the schools we have visited and these three have certainly made a tremendous impact on us. We hope to maintain links with each of these schools in future and continue to learn from their outstanding methods of work.