Beyond young and old

17th January 2003 at 00:00
As inclusion gathers pace, special schools are redefining themselves

Castle Green special school recently moved into new PFI-built premises. At the same time, the school has reinvented itself in the face of falling roles and changing attitudes to inclusion.

"We realised that the term 'moderate learning difficulties' was becoming meaningless and the school would eventually die," says head teacher Ian Reed. "But we knew we had expertise and experience which we thought we could harness. We held discussions with the local secondary heads group, looking for a niche to assist mainstream students in developing vocational skills."

The result has transformed the agenda at Castle Green. It still has 208 of its own students aged 11-19, including a thriving sixth form of 75. But it is also acting as a learning support unit for Sunderland secondaries.

With funding of pound;159,000 from the DfES Innovations Unit, Castle Green timetabled a range of vocational activities and offered them to mainstream students turned off at key stage 4. Now, in the scheme's second year, around 100 students a week come to Castle Green for courses including catering, construction, and health and beauty. All are taught in groups of six by Castle Green staff, joined by outside contractors.

With demand for places outstripping supply, Ian Reed identifies a new era of co-operation and boundary-blurring between mainstream and special education. "It is no longer necessarily relevant for a student to be based in just one organisation. We support inclusion, but for some students, some of the provision they need might lie outside mainstream."


The Briarfield Centre a special needs unit in Bristol, moved last September to pound;2 million purpose-built accommodation on a mainstream site

Beaumont special school, Darlington Planned site-share with comprehensive and primary

Woolgrove, Herts Beacon school with purpose-built autism base Crosshill, Lancashire First special school to win technology college status

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now