New headteacher says parents' SEND concerns must be addressed

Fyfe Johnston headteacher of Sir Peter Hall School

Fyfe Johnston, the new headteacher of Sir Peter Hall School - Credit: Fyfe Johnston

The newly-appointed headteacher of a special school set to open in Bury St Edmunds has said he sympathises with parents and carers' frustrations at the county's SEND provision - but he hopes to create an environment where pupils can flourish.

Fyfe Johnston will be the first ever headteacher of the Sir Peter Hall School in Airfield Road, on the town’s Moreton Hall estate, when it opens in September 2022.

Sir Peter Hall School

An artist's impression of the new Sir Peter Hall School - Credit: Concertus Design and Property Consultants

The school will build up to having a total of 80 students with social, emotional and mental health needs, aged between nine and 16 years old.

Earlier this month Suffolk County Council had to apologise after receiving a scathing report about the county's SEND provision.

The report highlighted numerous failures and shortcomings, such as pupils inappropriately placed in specialist places not suited to their needs, a lack of consistency in how parents are contacted and a lack of transparency about process and decision-making.

However Mr Johnston, who has worked in the education sector for 20 years and special education since 2006, said he was looking forward to the school making an impact in the local area.

He said: “This is an amazing opportunity and I am delighted to be leading the Sir Peter Hall School.

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“My passion for special education comes from understanding that there is a strong need for the best quality education possible for young people with SEND.

“Our education will be bespoke to each student and we will work closely with partners and families to provide our young people with the very best caring and therapeutic educational pathway.”

Mr Johnston was most recently a headteacher at The Care School in Norwich which achieved two ‘Outstanding’ inspections from Ofsted.

He believes the issues raised in the report on SCC's SEND provision are ones that highlight long-term issues of an oversubscribed system.

"Parents and carers have frustrations and being upset is something we need to address urgently," He added. "At the end of the day whenever you speak to a parent or whose upset, they're upset because it's their child and they want the best outcomes for them.

"It's absolutely vital that this work goes ahead and more provisions are put in place. But it must be the right provision."

To find out more about the school and an ongoing consultation, visit: www.sphschool.org/2021/09/27/section-10-consultation.

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