Start of a new era for £15m specialist school

CORBY. SCHOOL'The new �15m special school at Maplefields, Corby. A typical classroom.
CORBY. SCHOOL'The new �15m special school at Maplefields, Corby. A typical classroom.

A £15m specialist school is set to open its doors to its first pupils next week.

Manager of Maplefields School received the keys to the new purpose-built site in Tower Hill Road, Corby, which will soon welcome young people with behavioural, social and emotional difficulties.

The school, which caters for five to 19-year-olds from the north of the county, is currently based on sites in School Place, Corby, at a rented site at Our Lady’s School, Corby, and in Beatrice Road, Kettering.

Headteacher Lynda Morgan said: “I’ve seen it bit by bit and been here with hard hats on. Now it’s nearly ready to go it’s quite overwhelming.

“There’s so much excitement and we can’t wait to get in. I know staff and students are really excited but they are anxious – it’s a feeling of ‘what is it going to be like?’”

The new facilities have separate primary and secondary areas with shared areas in the middle.

Firm GSS Architecture, led by Tom Lyons, designed the school with features to help create a calm space, incorporating curved corridors with seating areas outside classes and rooms to allow staff to monitor students’ behaviour discreetly using CCTV.

The sports facilities will be open to the community to use during the weekend and evenings and include a hall, artificial pitch and a climbing wall.

The new site will allow the pupil numbers to increase from 88 to 104.

In September the school started a new Sixth Form to cater for post-16 students. They will be able to benefit from the use of an industrial kitchen with bistro to allow those on catering courses to experience cooking and serving food in a life-like environment.

There is also a workshop where would be-mechanics will be able to learn hands-on skills working on cars and motorbikes.

Mrs Morgan added: “We are particularly looking at courses around employability. It’s hard for all youngsters to get jobs. For some of our youngsters it probably will be even harder without as much confidence.

“We need to try and get them as much experience as we can in the workplace. We will start with the courses we do already and build on them gradually.”

Cllr Andrew Grant, Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet member for learning, skills and education, said: “I think not only is the design exceptional and could easily win awards, I think it is something other schools in the country will aspire to.”