Marchbank Free School in Darlington, the region’s first Special Free School has opened. The school was opened by a group of teachers with Mandy Southwick as the appointed head teacher.
The school is the first Special Free School in the North East and has been set up in response to the demand for Special education in the area. The curriculum is aimed at children with behavioural, emotional or social difficulties (BESD).The pupils come from surrounding counties such as Durham and North Yorkshire.
Marchbank Free School currently has 18 pupils and plans to expand up to 30 pupils in the next two years.
The pupils learn in small groups of six or seven and each class is taught by a specialist teacher and a teaching assistant.
The school has an outdoor programme to teach the children “about the seasons, flora and fauna," head teacher Southwark explains. The children also use outdoor space to build structures as part of their learning. “We have believed for a long time that children with this nature of difficulty really benefit from outdoor education," she says.
Southwark is very pleased with the school. "I feel absolutely privileged that all my dreams have become reality. This is one of Mr Goves good ideas and we have embraced it."