Creating a new school community in Daventry

The planned building for Daventry Hill School
The planned building for Daventry Hill School

Creating a community is the goal of the newly named head of Daventry’s special school.

Daventry Hill School will cater for youngsters from the ages of four to 19 with a variety of special education needs, and is set to take its first pupils in September.

Charlotte Raw

Charlotte Raw

Charlotte Raw has now been named as the head of school, and she will work along with executive head teacher Shez Webb and the trust in charge, Education Excellence for All.

Miss Raw will be in charge of the day-to-day running of the school, with Mrs Webb taking a strategic overview.

Miss Raw will come to Daventry with 12 years’ experience in special education and is currently principal of a primary school in Lincolnshire.

Speaking to the Daventry Express Miss Raw said: “Working in special education is very rewarding. Working with the staff, parents and young people, watching them grow and sometimes they achieve some wonderful things.

The cafe area of the new school building

The cafe area of the new school building

“With Daventry Hill being an all-through school, it will be great to see them come in for the first time at age four and stay on all through until they are 19 and are young adults going out into the world.

“It’s really an exciting prospect. To be able to come in and start from scratch at a school is not something you get to do very often.

“We might not have started teaching yet but there is an awful lot going on. I’ve been on site visits, seen uniform suppliers, been looking at ICT and computing equipment, classroom furniture, the curriculum, and this week we put out adverts for jobs too.

“In terms of the curriculum we are building links with businesses, industry and other schools locally.

“We know some of our pupils would benefit from the expertise at the mainstream schools here, and maybe some of those schools might also benefit from our expertise as well.

“The curriculum will be very much tailored to each student. We have the freedom to not follow the national curriculum, but we will do where it is appropriate depending on the student. We will have supported apprenticeships for our older pupils, and long-term placements – not just a couple of weeks’ work experience – so they can experience the world of work and learn key skills. The school will also have a cafe that is open to the public and parents. The students might spend time serving there or cooking the food.

“We’ll have specialist classrooms, and flexible ones too. One of the specialist ones will be for home economics, and that will be placed next to the kitchen for the school and cafe, so they can work together.

“I’ve been speaking to parents too, and it seems long-overdue for this type of provision to be in Daventry. I’ve spoken to parents who face driving their children out of the county to go to a special school, or who don’t drive and have to take three buses just to go to meet with their child’s headteacher.

“For many of our students spending a day at school can be a physically and emotionally draining thing, and to ask them to add a couple of hours on in travel time is not good.

“Allowing them to get home earlier means families have more time together.

“For Daventry Hill having the school in Daventry near to the centre is a great opportunity.

“It means parents who might otherwise not get a chance to meet each other will be able to drop their children off and maybe stop for a drink and a chat in the cafe. It allows more after-hours activities for the young people if they don’t have to travel a long distance.

“It means our young people can go into the town and learn the life skills they’ll need, like how to use a bank, or buy things in shops.

“It will raise the profile of these young people who might otherwise not spend much time in Daventry by them being out in the town, and by the public coming into the school.

“A school is a community, and we really want Daventry Hill to become a part of the wider Daventry community too.”

Work is starting on Daventry Hill School’s new building, on land off Ashby Road between the UTC and Eastern Way playing fields.

Miss Raw said: “We are hoping to move into the building before Christmas.

“We will take our first pupils in September and we are currently evaluating a site to use temporarily for that first term. It’s in Daventry and we’ll be using our own furniture and equipment so we can hopefully just change the building when ready.”

Daventry Hill School is planning on opening to students of certain year groups in September 2016, and expanding in the coming years to teach those aged four to 19.

The initial classes will be Reception, Year 3, Year 7, Year 9 and Year 12.

However, parents with children not in those groups in September and who are interested in their young ones attending the school can also get in touch. Miss Raw told the Daventry Express if pupils live nearby and the school is suitable, discussions can be had about finding an appropriate place for them at the school from September, regardless of year group.

Parents who have children with statements/education care plans can meet members of the school’s staff and trust at open days on Wednesday, February 3, from 9am to 5pm at the iCon Centre in Daventry, and Friday, March 4, from 9am to 5pm at Daventry Leisure Centre.