Somerset special school opens despite lockdown 'curveball'

image copyrightThe Levels School
image captionThe school has 28 pupils and says more students are set to join over the next few weeks

A special school has been able to fully open to pupils despite the "curveball" of a third national lockdown, its head teacher has said.

The Levels School was set up by the former teachers at Shapwick School in Somerset which closed in March.

Head teacher Caroline Cook said: "It's great to see them playing and interacting and also learning in the classroom."

The school hopes to increase its school roll to 35 pupils by Easter.

All schools remain open to children with an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP), are the children of key workers or who are eligible under guidelines set out by the Department for Education.

Staff are having weekly coronavirus tests and students had two tests in their first week. A plan in place should staff and students need to work remotely.

Some of the children have been out of education for up to 18 months for a number of factors.

Some parents said their children had to be home-schooled as they found the mainstream school environment too difficult to cope with so waited until the Levels School opened.

Others had been going through the process of securing an EHCP. This paperwork ensures the funding for a special school place.

Mrs Cook said: "At the moment staff and students are a little bit tired because obviously suddenly to go into a full day's work having to interact with individuals is exhausting.

"Also, these students are managing their own social anxiety so adrenaline is high."

image copyrightThe Levels School
image captionThe school hopes to eventually have up to 65 pupils

Staff have created bespoke timetables with additional rest breaks to help children regulate their energy levels and emotions.

Mrs Cook added that the school in Ashcott, near Bridgwater, has capacity for up to 100 but has chosen to cap its intake to 65 pupils.

"Over the next three to five years we'll build gradually and we've even spoken about The Levels School 2 in another location," she said.

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