West Berkshire Council is celebrating the official opening of Castle@Theale
The number of secondary school places for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs in West Berkshire was boosted when The Castle@Theale opened its doors last year.
The new facility, which is part of Castle School in Newbury, will provide an additional 42 much-needed SEMH places within the district. 12 young people secured their places in September 2022 with a further 30 places opening by the 2027/28 academic year.
Castle@Theale makes use of the former Theale Primary School buildings, which were vacated in 2020, when the new primary school opened on Englefield Road. Among the improvements to the buildings are improvements to their energy efficiency, resulting in them moving from Grade D to Grade A, and restoration work to their original features, such as the old school bells, to help maintain their character.
The facility also includes an additional modular building, which will serve as a new horticultural and design technology block and a multi-use games area. Newly installed solar panels in the main school building will generate electricity and hot water for the school.
Cllr Heather Codling, executive member for children, education and young people at West Berkshire, says:
“We are really proud of this new facility which will provide an excellent standard of education for young people in a fantastic, inclusive environment.
“Castle@Theale is a special place where students grow emotionally and educationally, and we are delighted to see how well it has been received since opening.
“Providing an excellent standard of education for all local young people is one of our key priorities and a key area of investment. The number of children with special educational needs has increased significantly in recent years and we are responding to this by increasing our specialization in providing excellent facilities such as this.”
John Hewitt, headteacher of The Castle School, Newbury and Castle@Theale, says:
“We are off to a great start with our second Castle Home and it is exciting to announce its official opening. The response from the young people, their families and staff has been fantastic.
“Having such a fantastic environment for learning has a really positive impact on the educational outcomes of our young people, and it’s great that Castle School and West Berkshire Council are collaborating to bring The Castle@Theale to life.
“I look forward to welcoming more students to the school in the coming years. I know they will love being here as much as we do.”