MP is set to officially open school’s new skills centre

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A SCHOOL in Bury St Edmunds that helps youngsters with learning difficulties is now helping other schools, businesses and organisations in its community.

The Skills Centre at Priory School, in Mount Road, Bury, will be officially opened on Thursday by Bury MP David Ruffley.

The centre was built as part of the school’s original bid for specialist status awarded in 2009, with support by Suffolk County Council, and was largely complete by last summer.

It consists of a large state-of-the-art food studies room, which boasts a range of special needs facilities at different heights, and a conference room, currently used for teacher training and meetings by groups including Samaritans and Suffolk Search and Rescue.

There are also two workshops, which provide students with opportunities for developing skills in practical areas and are available to pupils from other schools for Foundation Learning courses.

Joint training projects have already been set up with West Suffolk College in painting and decorating, while cycle maintenance and car valeting are also being offered.

The Skills Centre, designed by Tom Stebbing, of Stebbing Architects, cost less than £250,000 to build and was made using sustainable materials.

Priory headteacher Roger Mckenzie said: “These kind of buildings, that can be done for reasonable amounts of money, are the future and the great thing about them is they’ve got a low carbon footprint, so they are good for the environment, too.

“The other thing is the community involvement in setting it up and, hopefully, the community involvement in making it a success in the future.”

He added: “It’s great that a special school like ours, that in the past has been quite isolated, is now a special part of the community.”

Mr Ruffley said: “Having held an annual Priory School Question Time for students since I first became the town’s MP, I know about the care and the teaching the school provides. The head and governors are passionate about making the school even better and this new Skills Centre is yet another milestone of major achievement.”