A new specialist school with state-of-the-art facilities has opened in Stowmarket, Suffolk in Grade II listed former rectory Wetheringsett Manor, in response to the growing demand for personalised learning to meet the needs of pupils with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties. An architectural gem set in beautiful grounds, Wetheringsett Manor School has been extensively refurbished and extended to provide an inspiring and therapeutic learning environment for vulnerable pupils aged 11-18 – and its specialist approach is already attracting pupils from the surrounding counties of Essex, Norfolk and Cambridge as well as Suffolk.
At Wetheringsett Manor School, part of Acorn Education & Care and Outcomes First Group, education is adapted to meet each individual’s learning needs while ensuring they also feel safe, secure and nurtured. Catering to pupils who have a wide range of social, emotional and mental health needs – for whom a mainstream environment is often too overwhelming – the school provides a variety of learning spaces suitable for one-to-one and small group teaching to optimise outcomes. Classes have a maximum of six children with one teacher and a teaching assistant, with additional support from a team of specialist staff – including speech and language therapists, educational psychologists and occupational therapists.
A brand new extension adjoining the main building, which dates back to 1843, houses spacious modern classrooms, each equipped with the latest education technology including interactive whiteboards and laptops. Calming sensory areas provide essential spaces for pupils to regulate their senses, which in turn helps to support their emotional wellbeing. While literacy and numeracy skills underpin the school’s curriculum, great emphasis is placed on ensuring that the education delivered is relevant to pupils’ experiences of the real world so that they can apply what they learn in everyday situations.
Set in extensive grounds in the picturesque village of Wetheringsett, the school provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor learning. Forest school is an integral part of the school week and takes place every Wednesday, giving pupils the chance to develop self-confidence and life skills through teamwork activities such as building fires and shelters. Each child has their own section of an allotment, with home-grown produce used in lessons to prepare lunchtime food. Resident muntjac deer, pheasants and guinea fowl add to the enriched learning environment, and the school is also looking to welcome a therapy dog and chickens.
Further plans in the pipeline include a new sports centre, as well as developing the existing on-site factory to provide vocational training opportunities for pupils in sectors such as mechanics, health and beauty, decorating, plumbing and joinery. The school is also looking to develop further learning links with local colleges.
Drawing referrals from local authorities in Suffolk and the surrounding counties of Norfolk, Essex and Cambridge, Wetheringsett Manor is growing its intake to support more pupils with SEMH and other complex needs. Some of these vulnerable young people have been out of the education system for up to two years due to a lack of suitable placements within reasonable travelling distance.
Commenting on the opening of Wetheringsett Manor School, Headteacher David Bishop said, “We are delighted to be welcoming our first students and supporting them on their education journey, helping to unlock both their personal and academic potential. Our traditional manor house has expanded to include a modern classroom block with everything teachers and students could need. We believe in delivering an exceptional education and to do this we’ve invested in creating an environment to inspire learning, which, coupled with our professional teaching team, gives our students a first class start in life.”
Parents and carers interested in finding out about Wetheringsett Manor School and its suitability for their child are welcome to get in touch directly with the school at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01449 703935.