Councillors have given the go ahead for a therapy and education centre for children with complex physical and mental needs at Quex in Birchington.
The Llewellyn School Retreat will 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. Increasing demand for school places has resulted in the couple needing a larger site.
Sarah 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 the Deaf 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 plan
The school building at Quex will initially take 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.
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.
The site is currently grazing land close to the estate’s Secret Garden Nursery.
Delighted Sara said after the meeting: “ I had the most amazing experience receiving heartfelt feedback from councillors who have been and visited our school and the TDC planning committee who were for approval .
“The chairman asked shall we take a vote that vote was unanimous, I can’t put into words what I felt, lots of happy tears . Lots of thanks to everyone who has shown their support in getting us this far. I would also like to thank Quex and Anthony and Angie Curwen as they believed in us as soon as they visited and have helped us so much.”