New inclusive school opens in Belle Isle

Trio of new schools for children with Special Educational Needs nears completion

The second of three purpose-built schools which will transform education for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs opened this week in Belle Isle.

Springwell Leeds South on Belle Isle Road will serve 100 youngsters aged 11-16. In January, a sister site Springwell Leeds East opened at Seacroft and in September, a further site serving the north of the city will open at Tinshill. The school has been built on the site of the former Merlyn Rees High School, next to South Leeds Youth Hub.

The schools will operate, together with an already opened school at Oakwood, as Springwell Leeds Academy which manages care and education for children with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs between the ages of five and 16.

Leeds City Council has invested £45 million as part of an ambitious scheme with Wellspring Academy Trust to transform specialist education across the city. Wellspring Academy Trust, which operates schools across the north of England, has a track record of outstanding academies and a strong reputation for excellence in specialist education.

When the final site in north Leeds opens in September, the four schools will cater for 340 children. More than 60 staff have been recruited and around 100 jobs created.

The new state-of-the-art facilities will include specialist teaching areas, sensory rooms, 3G sports pitches, a library, fitness centre as well as multi-use games areas and an agricultural outdoor space complete with chickens.

Wellspring Academy Trust Chief Executive Mark Wilson said:

“These new schools provide a welcoming, caring, safe, and warm environment where children can be supported and empowered to succeed.

“The dedicated staff at Springwell Leeds Academy have developed a curriculum that provides opportunities for academic progression as well as vocational learning, whilst being engaging, creative, and innovative. These are very exciting times for specialist education in Leeds.”

Executive Principal of Springwell Leeds Academy, Scott Jacques, said:

“The investment made in these buildings will help us to deliver our vision. Here at Springwell Leeds Academy we have ‘Unconditional Positive Regard’ for our students and this is at the centre of what we do. It’s all about being authentic, showing that you really do believe in the children. We believe in the children and they believe in us.”

Steve Walker, director of children and families at Leeds City Council, said:

“Our ambition is for Leeds to be the best city to live and grow up in for all its children and young people, and the council has invested £45 million to ensure that children with social, emotional and mental health needs have access to world class learning provision.

“The opening of Springwell Leeds South is a key milestone in ensuring that children and young people with additional needs have the support they require to reach their potential.”

The building work for the Wellspring and city council partnership is being delivered by Interserve, the international support services and construction group.

Wellspring’s unique approach was one of the reasons the Trust was referenced by the Department for Education as being a “model of inclusiveness” in a recent Parliamentary Select Committee session.

All four schools in Leeds will be open by September 2018, with a further mainstream school, Elements Primary, opening in Middleton, Leeds at the same time.