Ground breaking start for SEN Centre of Excellence

Works to expand St Ann’s Specialist School for Communication and Interaction and create a pioneering Special Educational Needs (SEN) Centre of Excellence for Merton will be launched at an official ground breaking event next Monday 7 September.

The innovative SEN Centre of Excellence will provide a new standard of education facilities to pupils with severe and complex learning difficulties in Merton. The centre will occupy two sites – the current site of St Ann’s School and another site, a short distance away in Middleton Road, to be developed as new provision for the secondary department.

Shadow minister for schools, Nick Gibb MP will turn the first soil at the site of the future secondary school department. He will be accompanied by Merton Council leader Councillor David Williams, Councillor Debbie Shears, cabinet member for children’s services, Mayor of Merton, Councillor Nick Draper, Councillor Maxi Martin from St Helier ward, Andrew Whittington, chief executive of Merton Mencap along with teachers, school governors and council officers.

The expansion will increase the capacity of St Ann’s School from 90 to 112 pupils – 56 at each site and will offer a borough wide resource for children with complex needs and their families.

The new secondary department is set to be completed in early 2011 providing excellent modern purpose built facilities for pupils with severe and complex learning difficulties. This will include a specialist hydrotherapy/multi-use pool, which will be part of an area that will provide facilities for the general school community including a hall and multi use games area. The building will boast a range of environmental building features including a biomass boiler, sedum roofing and greywater harvesting.

The development represents an £11.5 million investment into special educational needs in Merton, including a £5.9million capital grant from the government’s Department for Children Schools and Families.

Tina Harvey, head teacher at St Ann’s school says: “The improved learning environment will enable the school to create even better teaching and learning opportunities for all our pupils.”

Councillor Debbie Shears, cabinet member for children’s services at Merton Council says: “This is a significant investment for the council and will make a huge difference to the quality of schooling for children with special or complex learning needs in Merton.

“The new Centre of Excellence will be more than just a school – it will provide pupils with state of the art facilities to support a wide range of needs and curriculum subjects with specialist training and therapy rooms offering extended services to the wider community. By splitting the primary and secondary facilities over two sites pupils will also benefit from the same progression that other children experience when moving from primary to secondary school.”

“This is such an exciting development and we look forward to being able to offer children with severe and complex learning disabilities an improved standard of education and facilities within the borough.”

Notes to editors:
St. Ann’s School is a school for pupils with severe and complex learning difficulties aged 2-19 years. It is currently located in Bordesley Road, Morden.

St Ann’s School was given an outstanding rating by Oftsed in January 2009.

The school gained Specialist School Status for communication and interaction in June 2009 and was awarded a Gold Artsmark from the Arts Council in May 2009.

From 2011 St Ann’s School will become the SEN Centre for Excellence and will be split across two sites:
2-10 year old pupils – Bordesley Road, Morden
11-19 year old pupils – Middleton Road, Morden (under development)

For more information about St Ann’s School visit

Definitions of environmental building features:
Biomass boiler: Biomass boilers are fuelled by biological material. The biomass is burnt to produce hot water.
Sedum roofing: A living ‘green’ roof that is planted with sedum plants. The roof will absorb sound, increase the thermal insulation of the building and provide an environment for wildlife.
Greywater harvesting: Waste water is collected from wash basins, treated and used for purposes that don’t require drinking-quality water such as flushing toilets.