Overnight stays suspended at new special school for boys

Bure Park Specialist Academy opening. Great Yarmouth. Top Hayley Ross, Head of School in the new lib

Hayley Ross, head of Bure Park Specialist Academy in Great Yarmouth, has made adjustments to teaching and suspended overnight stays for a week due to Covid cases among pupils and teachers. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Just weeks after it opened a special school for boys has had to suspend overnight stays due to Covid.

Four pupils and five staff at Bure Park Specialist Academy, in Keyes Avenue, Great Yarmouth, have tested positive for the virus with all pupils being urged to take PCR tests, even if they don't have symptoms.

Head of School Hayley Ross said while the 29-pupil school was still operating, no-one was staying overnight.

Classes were being staged on a rota basis to ensure teaching was still taking place, she said.

She added there was no major impact on families and stressed that all schools were facing disruption due to the virus.

"It is frustrating because we are getting started and building relationships with the boys," she said. "But there is nothing we can do about it, we just deal with it as it comes."

The school which is for boys aged from six to 16 with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs opened on the site of the former Alderman Swindell Primary school on September 20.

It currently offers one residential night a week.

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After Christmas the school population will grow to 50 when the residential offer will likely be increased. The maximum capacity is 88.

Earlier this month an "extraordinarily high" surge in cases among secondary school pupils was recorded with an infection rate among 10 to 14-year-olds six times higher than the infection rate for the UK as a whole across all age groups.

An increase in lateral flow testing was put forward as one of the reasons behind the surge which estimated one in 20 high school pupils were infected.

The new £14m Bure Park school is the first of three new-build special schools due to open in the next 18 months as part of Norfolk County Council’s £120m SEND transformation programme.

The programme aims to improve inclusion in mainstream schools and deliver 500 new special education places in a mixture of special schools and specialist resource bases (SRBs) at mainstream schools.

The school welcomed its first 29 pupils on Monday, September 30.