TV presenter and journalist Dame Esther Rantzen opens school building in Stratford
- Credit: Archant
A refurbished school building in Stratford was opened by TV presenter Dame Esther Rantzen on Friday.
East London Independent School in Stratford Marsh saw its’ pupils, parents and staff gather to see the £1.5 million building unveiled.
The refurbished building is a church dating back to 1775, and this expansion means the school can almost double student intake from 38 to 70.
The school is part of TCES Group, a charity which supports seven to 19-year-olds with special social, emotional and mental health needs.
Dame Esther said: “It was a privilege to open this remarkable school building and see the amazing new spaces that have been created to support pupils with special education needs.
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“This building represents the school’s commitment to integration, and their inclusive approach means that more young people in east London will be educated locally and get the support they need.”
During the opening, Dame Esther was given a tour of the school to see the church’s six new classrooms, art room and specialist science, IT and food technology labs.
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The pupils also presented Dame Esther with a £500 cheque for charity Childline, which they raised by washing cars, holding a bake sale and a non-uniform day.
During the refurbishment, the church was converted from one storey to two, with all the existing windows retained to keep in natural light. The building was designed especially to create a low-arousal, autism-friendly environment. The renovation also saw a new hall, two sensory rooms and an outside area.
The school, which was rated outstanding by Ofsted, has also been given the Inclusion Quality Mark –
Thomas Keaney, CEO of TCES Group, said: “By converting this church, we’ve shown what can be achieved when you remove labels and dare to be ambitious. “The new school building complements our unique and innovative approach to education. It will enable us to support more young people with a range of different and often complex needs.
“Although it is often necessary to label children initially to ensure that they can get the support they need, we strongly believe that they should not then be segregated and divided according to their support needs. Labels are debilitating and can hold back children and young people.”