Building a future for special needs
A special needs school is celebrating the completion of a new building that indicates its changing role in the education community.
The contemporary two-storey block at Sunnydene Special School is being officially opened today by MP Phil Goff after a nine-month build.
Deputy principal Belinda Rowe says the makeover marks the changing face of the services provided by the school.
"In some ways this building reflects special education for the future, where the students are less segregated and more included in the mainstream. So in essence the school is becoming a support centre," she says.
The Three Kings school has long provided Outreach Services for schools that have high-needs students in mainstream classes.
The programme has developed to the point where six staff now support 40 students in schools across the Auckland isthmus.
"It's a really fast-growing part of our school and so that was really important to develop. The teachers only had an office the size of a toilet before," Ms Rowe says.
Now Outreach staff have a spacious room dubbed "the chapel".
The new building has an administration area, staff room, teacher resource room, auditorium and a art room.
There is also a seminar room that can seat 40 people which will be used for community development classes - another strengthened focus for the school.
"We are about giving back expertise to the sector," principal John McKeown says.
The cost of the project came in at about $1.6 million, almost double the original estimate.
The increase was caused by changes in the plans necessitated by the difficult and narrow site.
Mr McKeown says they felt very supported by the Ministry of Education during the whole process.
The resulting building is well-insulated with high ceilings and light airy spaces.
"The next development is the school grounds and classrooms and we are getting really excited about that," Mr McKeown says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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