Richmond Council is delighted by the announcement by the Department for Education (DfE) that the education provider, The Beckmead Trust, will run the borough’s new special free school for children and young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs.

Beckmead was chosen following a rigorous and competitive application and interview process. Currently, the Trust runs the Beckmead Family of Schools in  Croydon, rated Outstanding by Ofsted, and has just taken on an alternative provision academy in Essex, Beckmead Moundwood Academy. Beckmead Family of Schools is made up of eight separate sites, including specialist resource provisions and a college for learners aged 14 to 19. All meet the needs of children and/or young people with SEMH.

The new school is expected to open in 2023 at the Barnes Hospital site and will eventually accommodate up to 90 pupils aged seven to 19.

Cllr Penny Frost, Chair of the Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee, said:

“This is fantastic news! I know from the Achieving for Children officers who took part in the DfE’s selection and interview process that they were very impressed by Beckmead’s track record, and by their plans and desire to make this school a truly exceptional beacon of excellence within our borough.

“As we don’t currently have an SEMH school in the borough, this school will fill a major gap in our local provision and will help to ensure that as many of our local children and young people as possible can be educated within their home community.

“I am sure that Beckmead will be warmly welcomed into our own local family of schools, and they can rely on the Council and Achieving for Children to do all we can to assist them in making the school an outstanding success.”

Dr Jonty Clark OBE, Chief Executive Officer of The Beckmead Trust, said:

“We are very proud of the quality of the support we provide to the children and young people we educate and we are excited that we will soon be benefitting more young people including in Richmond.

“Our approach is underpinned by a belief in young people and in understanding how they can flourish. We have a strong sense of community, we believe in social justice, and at the centre of our work is a belief that giving and receiving love is essential. We have a highly committed, empathetic and skilled team of staff who care deeply for these children and young people, giving us the right to educate them, so that they can lead successful and confident lives.

“We are absolutely delighted that our application has been approved and we are looking forward to working with the Council, its councillors and its officers to progress the borough’s new school.”