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County Council Chairman opens new Newark Orchard School online

The chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council, Stuart Wallace, has officially opened the newly rebuilt Newark Orchard School in a virtual opening ceremony.

Councillor Wallace was joined by representatives from the school and the county council, as well as Robert Jenrick, Newark MP and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, in an online opening on Friday.

Kay Cutts, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Philip Owen, chairman of the children and young people’s committee, the school’s headteacher Margot Tyers, and Laura Redfern, chair of school governors, all attended the event.

A collage of pictures of the facilities at the new Orchard School, Newark. (45393281)
A collage of pictures of the facilities at the new Orchard School, Newark. (45393281)

It is the first time ever that a school opening ceremony in Nottinghamshire has been carried out online, which was necessary due to coronavirus restrictions.

Newark Orchard School, in Balderton, is a special school for pupils aged from three to 18, which provides for a wide range of complex needs.

The new school, which includes a day service centre, was built as part of a £12m rebuilding project.

A plaque commemorating the opening of the new Orchard School. (45393183)
A plaque commemorating the opening of the new Orchard School. (45393183)

The old school was split between two buildings at separate sites in Newark, on Appletongate and London Road, with the fabric of the buildings described as the worst in Nottinghamshire.

It is now all on one site, on London Road, which will greatly benefit both pupils and staff.

The new school, with modern, purpose-built facilities, includes a hydrotherapy pool, sensory rooms and an autism unit. It has space for 140 children and young people, with capacity to expand to 170 places in the future. It will help to meet growing demand for specialist school places.

The new school and day centre were funded by the council, with a £1m contribution from national government. The facilities were designed and built by the Arc Partnership.

Mr Wallace said: “It was a great honour to officially open the Newark Orchard School.

"A tremendous amount of time, hard work and dedication has gone into developing this new site.

"It has a much higher capacity for pupils and hosts a range of impressive new facilities.

“Improvements like these are not achieved by one person or group, but through the integrated work of the school staff, the county council, the contractors, and the school’s community.

“The Newark Orchard School is a testament to what can be achieved by working together, especially in these trying times.”

Mr Owen said: “I was delighted to attend the online opening.

"This new school will support young people’s education for many years to come.

"We’ve had some very positive feedback from parents, families, and the nearby community about the new building.

“The new school will help to promote pupils’ independence and deliver a 21st Century curriculum.

"I know all the school staff are dedicated and committed to the children and young people’s education and wellbeing, and I have every confidence that they will continue to deliver an outstanding education."

Mrs Tyers said: “I am really pleased with our brand new, state of the art school. Our previous buildings were spread across two sites and in a state of disrepair.

“At Newark Orchard school we have always endeavoured to deliver our school ethos, despite the facilities, as we all know that the heart of a school is so much more than just a building.

"However, we can now support our pupils to achieve their full potential in surroundings which fully promote our ethos of ‘Individual Growth, Individual people’.

“I would like to take the opportunity to remember our previous chair of Governors, Lesley Booth who supported the school for over 25 years and who has sadly now passed away. She, along with our current Chair, Laura Redfern was instrumental in the campaign for our rebuild, even accompanying Robert Jenrick on a visit to parliament.

“She was a passionate advocate for her own son and shared this passion with our students over many years and in fact was awarded an MBE for her service.

"In order to recognise her commitment, we have named our new Hydrotherapy suite after her.

“On behalf of our students, their families and the staff team, I would like to thank the County Council for making this dream come true and for providing facilities which we can be proud of for many years to come.”

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