“A happy school”, are the words used by the Ofsted inspectorate in their report following an inspection earlier this year at Chestnut Lodge Special School based in Chestnut Lodge, Widnes. The school mission statement is ‘Opening minds, unlocking potential, celebrating success’.
Ofsted said in their report: “Pupils arrive at school in the morning with big happy smiles that last all day, and it will be my abiding memory of my visit to the school. Every pupil had a smile on their face and were happy; so too were the staff who know each student extremely well”.
West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity had received an inquiry as to whether the charity could help them with the purchase of special playground and outdoor learning equipment and after due deliberation, the charity was pleased to make a grant of £20,107 which paid for seven special pieces of much needed equipment.
Following completion of all the work to install the equipment, Alan Riley from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, with Chris Eyres went to Chestnut Lodge Special School and meet with headteacher John Thompson and Chair of Governors Mike Cunliffe and Mark Flett of Wooden Spoon to witness the opening ceremony.
This type of equipment does not come cheaply! The Kompan Jumper square is nearly £6,000 and enjoyed by staff and pupils alike. In fact, during my visit the headteacher John Thompson can be seen enjoying the Kompan Jumper square with some of his pupils. When jumping up and down, all big muscle groups get trained. The jumping on and off the jumper additionally builds bone density.
Bone density is primarily built during early youth, so to build strong bones for life, children should take as much weight bearing activity as they can. There are few ways funnier than the responsive Kompan Jumper. With assistance, non-motorized wheelchairs can be assisted onto the jumper for a gently bouncing experience.
To accommodate the new playground and learning area equipment work was started at the start of the summer school holidays so that pupils would not be distracted by the noise of loud machinery and also to protect them from the machinery. A lot of time and effort was put into building the area and the assistance of the Wooden Spoon Club, a rugby charity for children, has been invaluable.
Finally, all preparations came to fruition and the headteacher, watched by staff, pupils and members of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity office, officially opened the venue. It was clear to see the joy on the faces of the pupils.
In opening the facility, John Thompson said: “This is not just a playground, but also a classroom where pupils can make mistakes, fall over, dust themselves off and start all over again. A lot of risk assessment has taken place to enable us to have this equipment. We are deeply indebted to West Lancashire Freemasons’ and Wooden Spoon for this magnificent help”.
The school caters for over 80 pupils whose ages range from two to 16 and the staff understand the distinct needs of every pupil which allows them to communicate effectively with every pupil. If you are interested in knowing more about the school, or becoming a school governor click on the following link;- https://www.chesnutlodge.net/website/home/3214
Article by Colin Roberts