Published: 18 November 2021
The pupils at Clarendon all have learning difficulties, and many have additional complex needs. About half have a diagnosis of Autism (ASD) and about 25% have significant medical needs, sensory issues, or physical disabilities. More than 40% of the pupils are eligible for the Pupils Premium Grant, and 58% of pupils are of ethnicities other than white British, indicating that the school community is significantly more diverse, and from more deprived backgrounds, than other local schools. Clarendon's minibus is old and no longer fit for purpose - it cannot be used within the ULEZ which which limits it usefulness further, and has started to cost significant sums in terms of servicing. The current minibus, more than 15 years old, is not wheelchair accessible which means it cannot be used by several of the pupils, and as a 15 seater cannot accommodate most of the class groups with staff.
The 17 seat lightweight accessible minibus will meet the needs of the pupils and class groups and help to provide the rich and varied cultural, sporting and artistic experiences which the pupils of Clarendon both love and deserve. Clarendon’s goal is to ensure that pupils leave the school as independent as they are able to be and to this end place huge value on ensuring visibility and participation in the wider community - the new accessible minibus will help the school to reach its goal.
WHY CLAREDON SCHOOL NEEDS A 17 SEAT ACCESSIBLE MINIBUS and THE DIFFERNCE IT WILL MAKE hear from John Kipps, Headteacher
Our pupils learn most from seeing, doing, and experiencing, and trips and visits are therefore fundamentally important to what we offer in school. These range from local visits within the borough, to trips further afield or into central London. We also run residential school journeys for most year groups annually, ranging from Outward Bound (in the Lake District) to a performing arts journey (in Suffolk). We are active members of the Surrey Special Schools Sports Partnership, and regularly participate in team sports and activities with other schools. Our goal is to ensure that pupils leave us as independent as they are able to be - and to this end we place huge value on ensuring our visibility and participation in the wider community. Some of our older and more able pupils are, of course, able to do some journeys on public transport - and this is actively encouraged where possible. However, the complex needs of many of our pupils (as well as time constraints) make this difficult for the majority of our activities - a suitable minibus is such an essential resource for this reason.
As we start to emerge from the pandemic, which has had such a limiting effect on our pupils, Clarendon is focussed on getting our pupils back out into the community. We have had nearly two years during which trips and visits were severely curtailed - yet we are keenly aware that our pupils learn most effectively by seeing and experiencing the world around them, and that they benefit hugely from being part of the wider community outside the school environment.
With Capella House School (another special school within the Auriga Academy Trust) now open on our site too (and without a minibus of their own), a new 17 seat minibus will benefit a total of about 140 pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, and will enable the two schools to provide the rich and varied cultural, sporting and artistic experiences which our pupils both love and deserve.'
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