The special school in Sprites Lane, which teaches many children with disabilities and learning difficulties, has long had to manage with an ageing building not totally fit for purpose in the modern age.
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One of the new classrooms at The Bridge School in Ipswich. Picture: Lauren De Boise.
But the new building, which headteacher Hazel Simmons said cost “double figure millions”, is a world away from what staff and pupils have known before, with hi-tech and modern facilities to support their learning and development.
As well as having new interactive whiteboards, the large classrooms specially designed for between eight and 10 pupils also have specially designed acoustic panels to ensure a quieter environment - a huge benefit for children with conditions like autism, who can be more sensitive to loud noise.
There are also “learning pods” where children can focus on tasks alone and sensory rooms, a cookery room for the first time and a brand new design and technology studio.
Rebound therapist, Wendy Prime, with the new trampoline at The Bridge School in Ipswich. Picture: Lauren De Boise.
Ms Simmons said the young people are now “extremely well catered for” with “lots of extra facilities”, with a new playground and outdoor gym set to be add to the new site in the near future.
She added that the benefit to their educational chances would be “absolutely huge” and has already been making a difference since pupils returned to school this week.
“The very low, quiet environment enables them to relax and reduces their anxiety,” she said.
“People who were having trouble will be able to make much more progress.”
Kelsey and her teacher enjoy one of the sensory rooms inside the new multimillion pound building at The Bridge School in Ipswich. Picture: Lauren De Boise.
Like everyone else, The Bridge School - which is part of the Unity Schools Partnership - has also made substantial changes following the coronavirus crisis to ensure greater hygiene and social distancing.
The school remained open for many vulnerable children during lockdown and said there have been some silver linings in the restrictions.
For example, Ms Simmons said that while the need for social distancing had been difficult, it had helped some children make the leap to becoming more independent.
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