New further education block will offer life skills for pupils at Riverwalk School

Jan Hatchell, new headteacher at Riverwalk School
Jan Hatchell, new headteacher at Riverwalk School
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A new specialist block for 16 to 18-year-olds at Riverwalk School is planned for their new site at Hardwick Middle School.

Government funding of £365,000 has been earmarked for the further education block which will provide a standalone teaching site where young people with severe learning disabilities can learn basic life skills alongside their education.

New headteacher at Riverwalk Jan Hatchell, who will be taking the whole school forward on to its new site at Hardwick said the current school in South Close was cramped, with the dining hall doubling as a sports hall and inadequate space for many of the aids children with complex needs require.

The further education block will provide learning opportunities to run alongside lifeskills such as shopping, making a bed or heating a meal which many people take for granted.

“It’s about being part of the community and also learning to be independent,” said Mrs Hatchell.

The complete transfer to Hardwick is expected to cost in the region of £4 million as there will need to be major refurbishment to adapt it to the needs of its new pupils. There will also be adaptations at Sextons Manor where early years provision is provided for Riverwalk pupils. The 16-18-year-olds will move on to the site in 2016 and the remainder of the school will follow from 2017.

“This will give us outside space and allow us to give students real opportunities to take part in sports activities. It will be a bigger building. We are crammed in here. When you imagine one child may need a wheelchair, standing frame, work chair and comfy chair, that’s a lot of space.”

There will also be specialist technology and science classrooms. Mrs Hatchell has worked in special education since 1984 and was headteacher at Hall School in Norwich.