Thinking Schools Academy Trust open The Rainbow Fish Inclusion Centre

Thinking Schools Academy Trust open The Rainbow Fish Inclusion Centre

Thinking Schools Academy Trust opened the Rainbow Fish Inclusion Centre last week (Friday 15th October) to provide state-of-the-art facilities for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and/or Disabilities (SEND) across the city.

The inclusion centre is located at Penhale Infant School which is part of Thinking Schools Academy Trust. Thinking Schools is a high-performing Trust that leads 17 successful primary and secondary schools in Medway, Kent, Plymouth and Portsmouth.

Anna Webb, Executive Head of Penhale Infant and Newbridge Junior Schools, said:

“My team and I are very excited about the new inclusion centre, which we have named the Rainbow Fish Centre. Thank you to everyone at the inclusion service in Portsmouth City Council who we have worked closely with to deliver the new facility.”

The Rainbow Fish Inclusion Centre will be part of the wider inclusion offer within Portsmouth and provides a range of specialist support and resources aimed at making education for children with SEND more accessible and will continue to keep children’s aspirations for the future high. The building has been designed to include an innovative sensory and soft-play room to help develop and engage students’ senses as well as offer a safe space and calming environment within school.

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The centre is part of Portsmouth City Council’s £3.5 million investment initiative to provide inclusive education in the city. The Local Authority is currently funding eight places at The Rainbow Fish Inclusion Centre with the prime area of need being cognition and learning. This will grow to 16 places next academic year.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education and Deputy Leader at  Portsmouth City Council, said:     

The purpose of the Inclusion Centre is to enable children with SEN, who need more support than is normally available in a mainstream school, to be educated as an integral part of Penhale Infant School so that they can be part of their local school as well as having additional specialist support. It has been great for the council’s design team to work closely with the Trust to create the best designed learning environment to benefit the children in their learning.”

The centre will open up gradually to children, starting with a class of up to eight students this year and expanding next academic year. Classes will be named after sea creatures including Octopus and Starfish, in line with the school’s underwater theme and linked with The Rainbow Fish children’s book.  The centre will form an integral part of the Penhale Infant and Newbridge Junior School community.

Natalie Sheppard, Director of Education at the Thinking Schools Academy Trust in Portsmouth, said:

“The Rainbow Fish Centre offers an exciting opportunity for students to learn in a safe and inclusive environment within our school. The children will be able to begin their educational journey closely connected to a mainstream environment before they continue learning with new specialist provision being developed at the Portsmouth Academy. This will offer an all-through pathway within the Thinking Schools Academy Trust family of schools.”

The school and Trust are committed to working with the SEN team within Portsmouth City Council to deliver this and make the centre a big success.

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