£6.4 million alternative school for Doncaster children who can’t stay in mainstream education to open next month

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A new school for children who can’t stay in mainstream education is set to open next month. 

The building, which is being purposely built on the former site of the Bentley training centre, will originally admit eight pupils by January 21 and expand to accommodate 60 by September. 

The independent school will be run by charity Big Picture Learning who operate schools in 11 other countries.   

A report seen by councillors said the schooling model has resulted ‘in good outcomes’ for children in the USA, Australia and the Netherlands. 

Contracts have been offered to a head teacher and a teacher both of whom have previously worked in an ‘outstanding’ independent school in London. Two other teachers have also been sourced.

The total cost for the project totals just under £6.4 million over six years with £1.7 million from Government, £750,000 from social firm Big Issue Invest who take a ‘percentage return’ at the end of year six and the council who will stump up around £4.5 million. 

Doncaster Council as the commissioner of the service, will pay ‘outcomes payments based on results’.

Council bosses had to loan BPL £314,000 due to delays in the draw down of funds from the Government and Big Issue Invest. 

Officers who made the decision said without the loan the opening date would’ve been delayed. 

Riana Nelson, assistant director of partnerships and operational delivery, said: “Young people attending alternative provision do not fare well academically and struggle to progress later on in life.

“Due to their limited engagement in learning and the environment they grow up in they are at a higher risk of engaging in risk taking behaviours and potentially could suffer with low self-esteem, resilience or poor mental health.  

“We know that children and young people fare better if they are attending school and enjoy their learning.

“The implementation of BPL ultimately provides an opportunity to test a delivery model that has the potential to improve outcomes for children and young people in the medium to long term, improving overall levels of social mobility within the borough.”