Focus on Gretton School
Girton's newest school opened only in January 2010 in Manor Farm Road and is certainly distinctive. The Gretton School has adopted one of the old village names but is very modern, stylish and progressive.
The school specialises in pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), specifically High Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. It has taken the site of the former Lady Adrian School, but it is very different from its predecessor. The school was completely refurbished and remodelled before re-opening. It is bright, modern and well-equipped, with an airy gymnasium, attractive classrooms and individual workstations with computer screens for each pupil in every classroom.
Not under any form of local authority control, the new school is independent, much smaller than the previous school, and is focused on a defined range of pupils. Its origins lie in Piscari, a London based services business, which has grown rapidly over the past six years in the field of education services.
Pupils are admitted following assessment and need to have a statement of educational need. Currently, the majority are Cambridgeshire-based, but there are a number of pupils from adjoining counties. Fees are paid by local authorities, and Gretton School prides itself on providing closely-focused individual development programmes for each individual pupil at an economic cost.
The age range is wide, from 5 to 19, although currently the oldest pupil is 17. At present there are 38 girls and boys, with 12 in the primary section and 26 in the secondary section. Class sizes are small, with a maximum of six, and pupils receive a high level of individual attention. There are currently six pupils boarding, for those children who live too far away, this will increase to 12 weekly boarding places, but most pupils are brought in daily by taxi or private car.
The full National Curriculum is followed and an examination record is being built up, supplemented by BTEC National Diplomas and First Certificates (for instance in Film and Animation) and by additional activities as diverse as fencing, rock climbing, equestrianism and jewellery making. Many pupils have considerable academic potential, and the school anticipates that before long pupils will progress to university as well as to local colleges such as the Cambridge Regional College.
In addition to academic objectives, Gretton School helps pupils achieve social goals linked to their studies, which requires a high staff/student ratio and an expert staff dedicated to their mission and possessing exceptional enthusiasm and energy. The school has 43 staff, of whom 25 are full-time equivalent posts as teachers or teaching assistants, and 13 are support staff in social care. In addition, there is a Speech and Language Therapy Team, Educational Psychologist, Music and Drama Therapists and Occupational Therapy Team.
Leading this team is Principal Mrs Deb Reynders-Carr, who originally comes from a social work background and moved from Shropshire to take up the post in December 2010. She has energetically built up the team, and is supported by Ms Tina Harris as Head Teacher and Ms Shelly Hayes as Head of Care.
Pupils play a major part in the decisions over the running of the school and there is an active school council.
Gretton School has many plans for the future, in particular to develop links with the village community. The Pilates classes run by Amanda Platt (see this month's Girton Scoreboard) meet on Monday and Tuesday evenings in the large modern gymnasium. The school welcomes prospective parents to view the school; formal events to which villagers will be invited are on the future agenda.
The impression created by a visit to the school is entirely positive. Keen, confident, courteous and articulate pupils, a vibrant and stimulating environment, enthusiastic and committed teachers, and a proactive leadership - all combine to make an exciting school of which the village can be justly proud.
Address: Manor Farm Road, Girton, Cambridge CB3 0RX
"Focus on Girton" is a series of occasional articles on the organisations of Girton. Articles are written independently by members of the editorial team of the Girton Parish News with the consent and cooperation of the organisation concerned. The selection of organisations featured is entirely at the discretion of the editorial team. The articles do not in themselves represent an endorsement of the aims or activities of organisations. No link exists between the publication of an article and any paid advertising in the Girton Parish News, whether in the same issue or more generally. The article may also be found on the Girton Parish website at www.girton-cambs.org.uk.