THE 25 metre pool glows with iridescent colour courtesy of calming underwater lighting…
The corridors are high and bright with natural light, autism-friendly lightbulbs and wide open spaces. The therapy room is an interactive wonderland where the walls and floor become an underwater landscape that whisks children away on a journey of the imagination.
This is Liverpool’s newest school and it’s already being hailed as the best of its kind in the country for children with special educational needs.
Birtenshaw School in Fazakerley is the latest to be completed as part of the council’s Liverpool Schools Investment Programme (LSIP). The £5M building on the site of the former Dyson Hall School was completed recently.
Run by the Birtenshaw Charitable Group, the school caters for up to 50 children aged between three and 19, with a range of special educational needs and disabilities.
Birtenshaw boasts a number of impressive facilities including the 25 metre hydrotherapy pool with multi-sensory surround sound and lighting system, a therapy room and a number of multi-sensory spaces that include cutting-edge immersive technology.
You can watch our video tour of the new Birtenshaw School, here:
The school is one of 22 across Liverpool that have either been built from scratch or completely transformed as part of the LSIP.
The £180M project was Liverpool City Council’s response to the scrapping on the national Building Schools for the Future programme in 2010. The government’s decision to call time on the programme meant thousands of Liverpool children faced the prospect of completing their education in tired old buildings that were no longer fit for purpose.
LSIP, spearheaded by Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, has created 16 new schools, with others receiving significant new builds, extensions and new blocks.
Staff at Birtenshaw are currently preparing the pristine new building for its first intake of students in September. They took time out from their schedule recently to host a special visit from the Mayor.
And the Mayor liked what he saw: “What an amazing school!” he said. “This is one of the jewels in the crown of our school building programme and it has delivered what has to be one of the best facilities of its kind for children with special educational needs anywhere in the country.”
“Our school building programme was born out of a commitment to give our children and young people the modern learning environments they deserve. It’s fantastic to see it coming to fruition with buildings such as Birtenshaw.”
Not only will the facilities at Birtenshaw benefit the pupils, they will also be available for use by the wider community.
Julie Barnes, who is the deputy chief executive of the Birtenshaw Trust said: “We have an existing school in Bolton and we get a lot of referrals for children in Liverpool, so it made perfect sense to create a new school here.”
“It has been a privilege to work with the council. It’s been fabulous from start to end. They have understood what we are able to provide for the children of the city and we have understood what the needs are. In terms of a partnership arrangement, it’s been absolutely brilliant.”
Photo: A Jewel of a School: Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson outside the new Birtenshaw School with Birtenshaw Chief Executive David Reid, Deputy Chief Executive Julie Barnes and Head of School Stacia Pettersen.