Phenomenal' response as community steps up to help Dunstable school get new playground
Article published by Luton Today
By Lynn Hughes, Friday, 31st December 2021, 4:19 pm
A rallying call to help youngsters at a special school in Dunstable has seen the building of a new playground.
Weatherfield Academy, on Brewers Hill Road, caters for children aged seven through to sixth form with cognition and learning difficulties. The school is a sanctuary for many of its pupils, some of whom act as carers for their own parents, despite their own challenges, and so when Covid hit and the school was forced to close, this negatively impacted pupils and their families on many levels.
The school remained open throughout 2021 to pupils as the school’s main priority was to keep everyone safe.
A key strategy, implemented by the senior management team at Weatherfield, was to promote outdoor learning as much as possible. In addition to ventilating classrooms, teachers actively encouraged the pupils to spend as much time outdoors as possible, enabling social distancing and minimising the risk of infection. The school’s playground facilities, however, needed much improvement and this is where the local community stepped in to help.
In just a few weeks, thousands of pounds was raised through local business donations to purchase playground fitness equipment for the junior part of the school. Plans were drawn up to revitalise the area to make learning and play fun for the children, who so desperately needed the comfort of familiar routines and a safe haven in such turbulent times.
Headteacher, Joe Selmes, said:
“We couldn’t believe the generosity of all the local businesses and at a time when everyone was experiencing their own problems. The response from the community was just phenomenal and we cannot thank everyone enough”.
Weatherfield Academy has run an employer engagement initiative for a number of years, working with local partners to support the school, who donate money, time, equipment and expertise. In turn these businesses benefit from a pool of work experience talent and a potential future work force, as well as the knowledge that they are helping a very worthy local cause as part of their corporate social responsibility.
“Our ties to the local community are deep-rooted. We are an enterprising school, always looking to do more and better for our children. This enterprise culture has taken root and pupils are showing commercial awareness and an interest in business.”
Installation of the new playground equipment has recently begun, which includes a fitness trail and children’s outdoor gym equipment to support the pupil’s mental and physical wellbeing.