All smiles when Mowbray School’s new Ripon site opened to its first children

New school, new friends and big smiles for pupils, staff and families at the new Ripon satellite of Mowbray special school.

“It’s been fantastic,” said Laura Pottage, mother of seven-year-old Molly, who has Downs Syndrome, and is one of 12 children who started at the Ripon satellite school. “This provision was desperately needed in this area and Molly is very very happy.”

Mowbray is an oversubscribed special school in Bedale where, according to Ofsted, good opportunities for pupils’ personal development and strong relationships between pupils and staff are at the core of the school’s work.

Molly has been in mainstream for three and a half years and Laura her mother, who fell in love with Mowbray School after visiting the Bedale site, believes the more specialist provision of the type offered by Mowbray in Bedale and now in Ripon is what her daughter needs.

She said: “It’s a very dynamic, forward-thinking school which prepares children for life in society and delivers a good education in a way children can engage with.”

We supported Mowbray’s ambitions for aged 3-11 satellite provision for the Harrogate district by providing over half a million pounds in funding - £374,000 capital to adapt the former Moorside Infant School site in Ripon and a £200,000 contribution to staffing, resources and other associated costs.  This financial support has enabled staff to be trained at Bedale in the teaching and learning ethos of Mowbray school in advance of the Ripon site opening.

“The children have had a wonderful start to their time at Mowbray in Ripon,” said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills. “Providing additional high quality special school places like this is part of our strategic plan for children with special educational needs and disabilities.  We want more children to access the right kind of education locally to cut down on journeys to school which can be across the county in some cases.  We are very happy to have supported the opening of this school.

“We are using the funds we have in the most efficient way possible to meet the aims of our strategic plan and to create additional places in the right areas of the county.”

Rather than having to keep turning children away, the school’s headteacher Jonathan Tearle, had long harboured an ambition to open a satellite school to serve Harrogate district.

Jonathan said: “We took over an empty school in Ripon in November and I am so proud of my staff in getting things up and running and so welcoming for the start in January. They have been phenomenal. We have had a say in all the ways the building is being adapted to meet the needs of these children and we have been supported all the way by the county council.”