Since it opened in 2018, ‘outstanding’ graded specialist provision New Ways School in Kings Norton, Birmingham, has consistently gone above and beyond to make sure it meets pupils’ individual needs.
The school supports children with special educational needs and those who are autistic from all over the local area. The children have experienced a range of difficulties and challenges throughout their lives. Most have highly disrupted educations in their past and have found that mainstream settings do not provide the environment they need in which to thrive.
New Ways offers a quiet and calm environment with specialist staff, small classrooms, only 25 pupils and a welcoming and inclusive environment. This mix has proved to be the ideal option for Felicity*, a young person who had previously experienced significant difficulties in a mainstream setting.
A wheelchair user, and very independent, the school she was in was simply too large and she couldn’t make her own way around. She would have required full-time carers at school. And so she found herself in the school library, entirely isolated from her peers and with work only making its way to her intermittently. There was no teaching and no learning. She closed down.
Her mother, not surprisingly, wanted a review of where she should be placed and wanted her to attend New Ways. The school weren’t sure they could meet Felicity’s needs as the school, they didn’t feel, was accessible enough. However, Felicity’s mum visited and said she felt it was, all that was needed was a ramp at the front door.
New Ways invested £40,000 in the ramp and a number of other enhancements to make sure all areas of the school were accessible for Felicity. Additionally, as she has gotten older, Felicity has also grown out of her wheelchair. The replacement available from the NHS would be too heavy for her to propel herself. Her independence would be compromised. It was something the school did not want to happen for Felicity.
And so they have commissioned a bespoke wheelchair which should see her into adulthood.
Executive Head Teacher Michelle Woodward said: “Felicity is an inspiration. She is so incredibly independent and very ambitious. We were so pleased to be able to commission a new wheelchair for her which has been bespoke built. The new chair cost £4k but it will give her independence for the rest of her life and we believe there’s no price on that.
“Her life really is unrecognisable to the one she was living before. She plays sports and takes part in everything we do at school in the curriculum and in sports. Academically she has caught up on all she missed and will achieve a full suite of qualifications.