For some children, a mainstream school setting can be overwhelming, particularly if they have learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia or find it otherwise difficult to learn in the same way as the majority of children.
However, there are very few schools that are set up for children like this for whom a specialist environment is needed.
Daniela Szmigielska and Emma Barklem from Berkshire decided to tackle this to help their own children and others like them by starting their own school.
Opening in January 2013 in Hurley, Berkshire, Beech Lodge School will be a new small independent co-educational day school for children between the ages of 7 and 16+ whose particular needs may not be fulfilled in a mainstream setting and who may not warrant a special school place.
The school building at Top Farm is a newly converted barn in a rural setting which is currently being completely refurbished. It will provide the classroom, assembly and office space suitable for a small number of children, including a garden and for playing and working in, as well as nearby access to woodland and sports facilities.
Beech Lodge will offer an innovative and hands-on approach to education for those children who require an individually tailored learning environment to build social and life skills, have access to therapeutic and specialist interventions and above all the educational tools with which to achieve their greatest potential. Founded by some of Berkshire's most inspiring teachers and a group of concerned and active parents, Beech Lodge’s aim is to provide a supportive and structured environment enabling those children to thrive rather than just survive at school.
Daniela said, "All children are different and learn and behave in different ways. Beech Lodge will consider the whole child addressing their individual emotional, social, physical and academic needs. We aim to use variety of teaching strategies and techniques to keep them on task, build self esteem and give them the practical skills for later life. The curriculum puts an emphasis on children developing skills in Literacy and Numeracy with cross curricular links across subjects. Special importance is also placed on outdoor and practical learning, cooking, art, music, drama and physical exercise."
Beech Lodge will accept children who would benefit from a high teacher/pupil ratio and small class sizes. They may require specialist teaching for dyslexia and dyscalculia as well as access to therapeutic interventions such as SLT, OT and Attachment therapy. These may be children who have restricted coping skills and low self esteem due to a range of difficulties including mild to moderate learning difficulties, social and emotional difficulties, sensory processing issues and missed opportunities at school.
It will be a school for children with ability and talent but for whom mainstream education is overwhelming. A school that recognises not only how vulnerable but also how precious those children are.