A therapy and education centre for children with complex physical and mental needs could be built at Quex in Birchington.
A planning application has been submitted for The Llewellyn School Retreat to move from its current base in Margate to land at Quex Park.
The school is run by Sara Llewellyn with her husband Phillip from their home in Cliffe Avenue, Margate. But increasing demand for school places has resulted in the couple looking for a larger site.
Royal School for Deaf Children
Sara set up the school to provide education for her own son and other children in a similar situation since the closure of the Royal School for Deaf Children in December 2015 after The John Townsend Trust, which ran it, went into administration.
She set up a temporary school in her garden but with a waiting list and regular referrals there is a need to expand.
The school is presently registered for 14 children; the staff ratio is 14 children to 10 members of staff. This is likely to increase with the larger premises, initially to 20 children and 15 staff. After a period of 5 years a phase 2 would be considered which would involve the addition of further classrooms.
The children who will attend have complex conditions such as cerebral palsy, very rare chromosome abnormalities, difficultly swallowing, visually impairment and hearing impairment and often a combination of conditions.
They will receive therapies to enhance their quality of life such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, horse riding therapy, art therapy, play therapy and cooking therapy. The desired outcomes for these children include increased mobility, improved life skills and communication skills, including speech and signing as well as achieving physical milestones.
In a letter with the application Mrs Llewellyn says: “After the closure of the (Royal School for Deaf Children) the local education authority considered placing our son Louie in a maintained school but it was quickly agreed that they could not meet his needs. This was due to the vast amount of equipment he uses daily and also the daily therapies he requires in order to continue his growth and progression, allowing him independence and quality of life.
“In January 2016 we were left with no alternative but to temporarily utilise an outbuilding in our garden and open the doors to other vulnerable children. This has poroven a huge success and provided parents with peace of mind that their children are once again within the education system.
“My husband Phillip and I have personally funded the set-up of the school, we have worked hard to meet all the standards required by the Department of Education and are registered as an independent special school.
“Our school is, and will remain, a small independent school but we require bigger premises as we have other children now attending.”
Part of the garden at the new school site will be designed with disabled swings and other play equipment accessible to disabled children. A scheme is envisaged where access to the disabled play equipment could be provided outside of “school / retreat” hours for disabled children in the community, on application and with access gained by a fob system.
A hydrotherapy unit may also be provided.
The parish council, district councillors and isle MPs have voiced support for the scheme.
A decision on the application has not yet been made.