Beech Lodge School applies for permanent home

Beech Lodge School applies for permanent home

Reporter:

Simon Meechan

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Beech Lodge School applies for permanent home

A school which specialises in teaching adopted and fostered children could build its own permanent home near Stubbings House.

Daniela Szmigielska Shanly

 

Beech Lodge School has applied for permission to build a campus for up to 96 children between the A404 and Stubbings House.

The school opened in Home Farm, Hurley, last year, but only has permission to be there for two years.

Founder Daniela Szmigielska Shanly explained that children at Beech Lodge do not fall into the 'special needs' category but mainstream schools are also inappropriate for them.

Half of the school's 10 pupils come from adopted or fostered backgrounds, including her 11-year-old son, Dom.

She said: "They're bright kids. Over half of them have been adopted or fostered. What we specialise in is giving children that extra understanding, patience and nurturing."

The 49-year-old added that some of the students have had 'traumatic' pasts and need a 'more understanding approach'.

Beech Lodge does not have a rigid timetable, with teachers free to take classes out for walks if the lessons are not going well. There are props for youngsters with attention disorders so they can fidget and learn at the same time.

There is an emphasis on therapeutic activities for the children, including cooking and looking after animals.

The day starts with 'soft learning' to get the children into the swing of things.

Daniela, who lives in Hurley, says that some pupils can catch up with their peers and are ready to return to regular schools after a period at Beech Lodge.

Although it is fee paying, councils have sponsored children to study there, with Daniela saying the Royal Borough was the first to do so.

A new home, she says, will give the school a sense of 'permanence' and allow it to expand.

She said: "What we do is quite different and it works. We've been inundated with enquiries.

"There's a great need for us to move. Our waiting list is bulging."

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