New independent school up and running

New independent school up and running

Reporter:

Nicola Hine

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New independent school up and running

Founders of a new independent school opened in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead say they have been 'overwhelmed' by the positive response it has received.

Beech Lodge School is now up and running at Home Farm in Hurley with the support of the council, Ofsted and the Department for Education.

Beech Lodge is now open

It has taken on five pupils and come September will have expanded to reach its full capacity of 10.

The project was the idea of Daniela Szmigielska and Emma Barklem who both have sons at the school.

Beech Lodge before the make-over

But the team has grown to include headteacher Lucy Barnes and a number of full-time and visiting staff.

"We're delighted with everything which has happened to date," Daniela said.

"It's been a lot of hard work but it's been so rewarding."

Emma added: "We've been overwhelmed by the positive reaction we've had."

The fee-paying school is for children who are able and talented but for whom the mainstream school system is not appropriate.

This could be for a range of reasons including mild to moderate learning difficulties.

It offers accredited qualifications like GCSEs as well as vocational options.

Facilities at Beech Lodge include a kitchen classroom for cookery, a garden, laptops and a chill-out room.

The school also has links with nearby Berkshire College of Agriculture so the children can visit the animals.

The ethos is 'it's good to be me' and children do not wear a uniform.

"It's that perfect balance between a school and a homely environment. That's what children thrive in," said Lucy, who has taught in schools across the area.

The Beech Lodge team originally bid for the former Holyport Manor School site but was unsuccessful.

It can only stay at the Hurley site for a maximum of two years due to planning conditions.

But the high level of interest from parents means the search is already on for a more permanent home.

Visit www.beechlodgeschool.co.uk for details.

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