STUDENTS with complex and diverse learning and emotional needs will benefit from the launch of a new Inclusion Centre at Isambard Community School.

The centre, which has been functioning on a smaller scale since September last year, will expand into a larger, permanent location at the school from March.

It has been introduced following a number of funding cuts and loss of external provision for students, including the loss of Connexions, less educational psychologist time allocated to schools, the end of parent support advisers and thresholds for social care intervention rising.

Specialist roles at Swindon Council have also been removed, including behaviour interven-tion teams.

Stephanie Neary, assistant to headteacher Rachael Mattey, said: “We aren’t getting as much help from outside so we are using the Inclusion Centre to internalise what was once available through wider provision.

“Students will use the centre for all sorts of different reasons. Recently, for example, we had a child recover from a heart operation who couldn’t be within the main school when they came back, so worked in the centre to catch up with the curriculum.

“It enables the students to work one-on-one with different members of staff which will help them back into mainstream school. We have been running it on a much smaller scale since September and it has been going really well. So far, 60 students have accessed the provision, which equates to five per cent of the student body.”

The centre will also be used to help give an alternative day or part day to students who no longer find a full-time timetable possible and require other lines of support, students under the direction of mental health teams in need of respite, to build up attendance for school phobics or refusers, students who need a quiet space from the main school either emotionally or medically and child protection work.

The Inclusion Centre will also aim to build on successfully completing the school’s Anti-Bullying Award, which they began working towards a year ago.

A focus group made up of teachers, parents, governors, pupils and the local PCSO was set up to support the school gain the anti-bullying accreditation, while day-to-day work has been carried out to help ensure students feel supported and have someone to turn to during their time of need.

“The centre gives specialist support for self esteem, social skills, anger management and more, so if a child was being a bully or being bullied they could go to the centre for help,” said Stephanie. “We’re confident that the new centre will help build on its early successes both in terms of GCSE attainment and published Osted inspection reports.”

From March, the Inclusion Centre will be based next to the John Laing Integrated Services Offices, separate to the main school.