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Outstanding education provider approved to open two new special Free Schools

The Beckmead Trust will provide world-class support for children and young people with complex needs in Essex and Richmond

The Department for Education (DfE) today approved the Outstanding-rated Beckmead Trust to open two new special free schools.

The Beckmead Trust specialises in support for traumatised young people with social, emotional and mental health issues (SEMH), autism and challenging behaviour.

The new schools will provide high-quality education for 90 pupils aged seven to 19 who have severe and complex SEMH issues in Harlow, Essex, and another 90 of the same range and with the same needs in Richmond. Fifteen of the 90 places in Harlow will be residential. The Harlow school is due to open in 2022 off Tendring Road and the Richmond school in 2023 in new buildings at the Barnes Hospital site.

The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, made the decision to select The Beckmead Trust following a rigorous assessment process involving council officers in the two areas and Department for Education (DfE) officials.

Beckmead currently leads a family of schools in Croydon, south London, which is rated Outstanding by Ofsted, and Beckmead Moundwood Academy in Harlow, which it started sponsoring in May. In the next few years the Trust is due to open three other new free schools – the Ropemakers’ Academy in Hailsham in East Sussex (in September this year), Roundwood Alternative Provision in Brent (in January 2021) and the Sir Geoff Hurst Academy in Chelmsford in Essex (in Spring 2022).

Dr Jonty Clark, the Chief Executive of The Beckmead Trust, said:

“We are very proud and feel very privileged that we have been chosen to support even more vulnerable children and young people in the country.

“Our approach is underpinned by a belief in young people and in understanding how they can flourish. We have a strong sense of community, we believe in social justice, and at the centre of our work is a belief that giving and receiving love is essential.

“We have a highly committed, empathetic and skilled team of staff who care deeply for these children and young people, giving us the right to educate them, so that they can lead successful and confident lives.”

Cllr Penny Frost, Chair of Richmond Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee, said:

“This is fantastic news! I know from the Achieving for Children officers who took part in the DfE’s selection and interview process that they were very impressed by Beckmead’s track record, and by their plans and desire to make this school a truly exceptional beacon of excellence within our borough.

“As we don’t currently have an SEMH school in the borough, this school will fill a major gap in our local provision and will help to ensure that as many of our local children and young people as possible can be educated within their home community.

“I am sure that Beckmead will be warmly welcomed into our own local family of schools, and they can rely on the Council and Achieving for Children to do all we can to assist them in making the school an outstanding success.”

Notes to editors

1. The Beckmead Family of Schools, led by the Beckmead Trust, was rated Outstanding in all categories by Ofsted in its most recent inspection in January 2017. Inspectors said that the school, on eight sites in Croydon, was characterised by “exceptional leadership, management and governance” which had “sustained and improved the quality of teaching”. It also praised staff as “highly skilled in managing pupils’ behaviour” and said “pupils learn outstandingly well”.

2. The eight sites in Croydon are:

  • Beckmead School, in Monks Orchard Road, Croydon, catering for children and young people aged seven to 14 with SEMH needs
  • Beckmead College, in Priory Road, South Norwood, catering for children and young people aged 14 to 19 with SEMH needs
  • Community Learning Team, in Alverston Gardens, South Norwood, catering for children and young people aged 14 to 19 with SEMH needs
  • Chaffinch Brook, in Morland Road, Croydon, catering for children and young people aged five to 11 with autism and challenging behaviour
  • Chaffinch Brook Upper, in Monks Orchard Road, Croydon, catering for children and young people aged 11 to 16 with autism and challenging behaviour
  • Bramley Bank and The Beck, in Croydon, providing short- and long-stay places for children and young people aged seven to 11 with SEMH needs, including autism
  • Rainbow Class, in Croydon, providing short- and long-stay places for children and young people aged five to seven with SEMH needs, including autism
  • Tharreo House, in New Addington, supporting children and young people aged five to 16 with complex SEMH needs including those at risk of child sexual exploitation

3. The Department for Education asked The Beckmead Trust to sponsor Beckmead Moundwood Academy (formerly TBAP Aspire Academy) in Harlow in May after an initial eight months successfully providing school improvement support.