Opening the doors to SEN facilities at Redbridge and Bank View Schools
Redbridge and Bank View High Schools have undergone significant transformation in recent years. Both schools – closely linked in location and ambition, yet autonomous in their own right – have received in the region of £12 million for vital improvements; significant funding that has been injected into rebuilding, expanding and re-energising the Fazakerley-based schools, turning them into modern, state-of-the-art facilities.
Funding from the Department for Education has enabled Redbridge to develop an unrivalled facility, which includes a hydrotherapy pool, sensory rooms, specialist soft play area and a therapy room, for its 135 pupils – 11 to 18-year-olds with profound and multiple learning difficulties. Liverpool Council’s £169 million Schools Investment Programme, spearheaded by Liverpool Mayor, Joe Anderson, has similarly provided the necessary financial platform for Bank View. It has created an exceptional school for pupils from Key Stage 2 right up to age 18 – students with autism, ADHD and emotional and behavioural difficulties.
The two schools not only provide more children and young adults in the local area with an enhanced learning environment to meet often complex needs – with capacity increasing across both sites by 60 places thanks to the double expansion – but they house a multitude of after school and weekend clubs to benefit the local community.
Like many educational establishments, once the school bell rings and the doors close, Redbridge and Bank View can often lie empty, with their newfound potential left untapped – in the evenings, over weekends and during school holidays. Buoyed by the multi-million-pound investment, and the state-of-the-art facilities it afforded, staff set out to realise the full potential of the two sites and extend their services beyond that of special educational needs. However, the task of providing facilities for multiple groups in and around school hours can be time-consuming and often complicated.
Business manager, Gary Van Oss, who joined the schools in February 2018, said: “Historically, both schools have managed their out-of-hours facilities hire internally. However, issues with staffing availability, the task of scheduling hirers around lessons, and a lack of time to plan and then generate additional revenue streams, meant facilities weren’t being utilised to their full potential, or being made available to people with special educational needs in the local community.”
As a result, the two schools took the decision to partner with School Letting Solutions (SLS) – signing with SLS in the summer of 2018 as a way of maximising the two sites, increasing revenue streams for the schools and opening up the facilities to a wider group of people within the area.
Over the course of the last 12 months, both schools have seen bookings increase, as the number of hiring groups has expanded and the popularity of the facilities has spread across Fazakerley and the surrounding areas. To date, SLS has attracted national franchises to the schools, including Puddleducks baby and toddler swimming classes, Diddikicks, which uses the indoor sports hall for under 5s football lessons, and Rebound Therapy with Nikki – therapeutic exercise classes that are carried out on a trampoline for children and young people with special educational needs, autism and physical disabilities. Earlier this year, founder Nicola Breslin beat off stiff competition from more than 440 entries to become the first winner of SLS’s Active Community competition, winning a year’s free facilities hire for her group.
Gary said: “The range of facilities now being used, for the benefit of the schools and the community, is excellent. It ranges from the hydrotherapy pool and the sensory playrooms, to the main hall and the multi-use games area.”
To date, the schools have seen bookings spike in May and June and across weekends, with the aim to further grow mid-week activity over the coming months.
“Working with SLS has undoubtedly helped to safeguard extra-curricular activities across both schools. Thanks to a personal approach to lettings, with hirers getting direct access to senior personnel, and a swift response to anything that happens on site out-of-hours, we’ve been able to increase bookings,” added Gary.
All revenue generated from lettings is invested back into Redbridge and Bank View, helping to maintain the upkeep and improvement of the facilities.
“Importantly,” said Gary, “expanding and enhancing our after-school provision has enabled parents of pupils and children with special educational needs in the local community to access bespoke facilities that truly have a profound effect on their emotional and physical wellbeing.”