'Exciting' new £1.1m centre for Portsmouth children with special needs to open

AN ‘EXCITING’ new £1.1m inclusion centre to support children with special educational needs is set to open in the city.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 4:38 pm
Education boss Cllr Suzy Horton. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The Rainbow Fish Centre, part of the Penhale Infant School in Fratton, will welcome pupils for this first time this autumn term.

It will provide facilities for children who need additional support with their learning, as part of a wider investment of £3.5m into special educational needs (SEN) approved by Portsmouth City Council earlier this year.

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Councillor Suzy Horton, the council’s education boss, said: ‘The purpose of the inclusion centre is to enable children with SEN who need more support than is normally available in a mainstream school to be educated as an integral part of Penhale Infant school so that they can benefit from aspects of the mainstream school experience as well as having additional specialist support.

‘This is part of a range of initiatives aimed at making even more improvements to education for children and young people with SEN and disabilities in Portsmouth and we're very proud of our approach of enabling children with special needs to be educated within mainstream schools where possible.’

Director of education at the Thinking Schools Academy Trust in Portsmouth – which runs Penhale Infant School, Natalie Sheppard, added: ‘The Rainbow Fish Centre offers an exciting opportunity for students to learn in a safe and inclusive environment within our school.

‘The children will be able to begin their educational journey closely connected to a mainstream environment before they continue learning with new specialist provision being developed at The Portsmouth Academy. This will offer an all-through pathway within the Thinking Schools Academy Trust family of schools.’

The development follows other specialist school places being created for children with more complex needs at Mary Rose, Cliffdale Primary and Redwood Park academies, and after Portsmouth City Council made £100,000 available to help 21 mainstream schools in Portsmouth to become even more inclusive for children with special needs.

Parents in Portsmouth are urged to check their child's school website for details on Covid-19 measures to continue to keep each other safe over the new term.

Children aged 16 and 17 are now eligible for Covid vaccines.

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