New special school opens doors to first students

Rob Speck, head of school at Duke of Lancaster in Fakenham. Picture: Danielle Booden

Rob Speck, head of school at Duke of Lancaster in Fakenham. - Credit: Danielle Booden

The headteacher at a new special school in Norfolk says he is hoping to provide the right environment for students to unlock their full potential.

Rob Speck, head of the Duke of Lancaster, in Fakenham, was speaking after welcoming the first 48 students on January 10.

Summer Alexander-Ali, teacher of KS3 and KS$, teaching a pupil at the Duke of Lancaster Academy in F

Summer Alexander-Ali, teacher of KS3 and KS4, teaching a pupil at the Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. - Credit: Danielle Booden

The SENDAT (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Academies Trust) school is for pupils aged between five and 16, with a primary need of autism or complex communication and interaction needs.

“The aim for me is to provide young people with freedom of choice, and to equip them with the skills and knowledge they require for the rest of their lives," said Mr Speck. 

“These children have the potential to really add to society. They just need the right environment to unlock that potential.

Saul Rice, assistant head teacher and KS3/KS4 lead, teaching students at the Duke of Lancaster Acade

Saul Rice, assistant head teacher and KS3/KS4 lead, teaching students at the Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. - Credit: Danielle Booden

“My vision for Duke of Lancaster school is to create a calm, safe and happy environment where everyone treats each other with kindness and respect.

“Our priorities this term are to establish and embed best-practice routines and systems by developing a culture of safeguarding; implementing trauma and mental health-informed approaches; and developing teaching and learning by establishing the key features of a ‘Duke of Lancaster lesson’.”

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The year-long building project by Norfolk County Council and RG Carter Construction is part of the council’s £120 million programme to transform special education and address the ever-increasing demand for specialist education places across the county. 

The library at Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. Picture: Danielle Booden

The library at Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. - Credit: Danielle Booden

The programme will create 500 additional new special education places in a combination of schools and specialist resources bases at mainstream schools.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services at the county council, added: "We’ve been delighted to work with the school, the trust which runs it and RG Carter Construction to make sure this new school building gives the best-possible facilities to support the education of all the children and young people learning there.

"I’d like to wish Rob Speck, his team and all the school’s new students the very best.”

The school will increase its intake to a maximum capacity of 100 children and young people by September 2023.

The soft play area at Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. Picture: Danielle Booden

The soft play area at Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. - Credit: Danielle Booden

The science lab at Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. Picture: Danielle Booden

The science lab at Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. - Credit: Danielle Booden

The sports hall at Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. Picture: Danielle Booden

The sports hall at Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. Picture: Danielle Booden

Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham. - Credit: Danielle Booden