Pupils and staff at Glendinning Academy, Wave’s special free school for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Devon, are incredibly happy to have moved into their brand new building in Newton Abbot. They are now busy making plans to invite members of the local community to join them for an exciting celebration event and see their new building and facilities during the summer term if Covid restrictions allow.

Recognised as the most successful Trust in the country for providing education for pupils who have been excluded from school, Wave runs six academies based in Cornwall, three academies based in Devon and the Community and Hospital Education Service (CHES) & Torlands based across three centres in Devon and Cornwall.   Glendinning Academy, based on the former Milber Infant school site in Newton Abbot, is the first Special School within the academy Trust family. 

The 54 pupils aged between 7 and 12 years and the 31 members of staff moved into their new building in January following a short period at a temporary base in Ashburton.

 “Our move was very welcome” said Jackie Taylor, Head of Special Schools for the Wave Trust.  “We are all very happy to be in our new building with its wonderful facilities and recognise the amazing opportunities it gives for our pupils. It will be even lovelier when we are able to fully immerse ourselves within the local community.”

The aim of Glendinning Academy is to support pupils to develop independence, gain relevant qualifications and achieve their ambitions by enabling them to enjoy, succeed, recognise and celebrate all achievements.  The building was especially designed to include neutral light spaces, with the sensory needs of pupils at the centre of all design decisions.

As well as spacious classrooms, each with access to the outdoors, dining and sports halls, a library, meeting spaces and break out areas, the building also has specialist food technology, science, art, outdoor learning and design and technology rooms.

There are also a number of outdoor areas where pupils can work with nature and the environment, with spaces for small animals including chickens, guinea pigs etc, and poly tunnels.  There is also a multiuse games area and a series of play areas, with equipment specifically selected to promote movement and sensory proprioception.

As well as the beautiful purpose-built building, Glendinning Academy also provides easy walking access to the town where pupils can take part in life skill activities, together with easy access to Dartmoor and the beach for outdoor learning. 

“Everyone settled very quickly into the building and, whilst we have not had our whole cohort join yet, we have around 70%, which, considering the tricky times we are facing, we feel is a real achievement for staff, pupils and their families in these challenging times.” said Sam Gilronan.

The new building has certainly got the approval of staff and parents . “It has been wonderful to see the children exploring their new environment with confidence and excitement said Kirsty, one of the teachers.  “Our new site is providing all that the pupils of Glendinning need to thrive. Watching their faces light up as they saw their new classroom, the swings and sensory areas was like Christmas all over again.

“My son has settled in so quickly, the environment he is learning in has had a massive impact as everything he needs is on site and the combination of indoor/outdoor learning has had an amazing effect on himsaid one enthusiastic parent.  He is happy to come to school now and has a lovely bond with the staff.  By far the best decision I ever made to move him out of mainstream education.” 

“We have been thrilled with the transition to the new Glendinning site for our son who is in year six said another parent.  “ He has loved being able to use all the fabulous new facilities, it was wonderful and emotional moment dropping him off on the first day at the new site. Our son is genuinely happy to come to school each day, he looks forward to a Monday and loves all the differentiated activities that Glendinning are able to offer. The fabulous staff have been so welcoming to our son and to us as parents, we are so pleased that they have a site that is reflective of their hard work and dedication.”

 And what about the views of the most important group at Glendinning – the pupils!

I like doing experiments in the science room and playing outside on the swing and going on the climbing frame. said Year 3/4 pupil Bradley, while Ben, also Year  3 /4 , was very clear about what he was enjoying I like playing football in the playground with my friends, making things in the cooking room and playing on the swing outside.”

While Year 6 pupil Isabel added At Glendinning we get a lot of support from our teachers and we have lots of resources to help with our learning. The play equipment is fun to play on and the food in the canteen is very nice.

With the number on role set to increase to 90 in September when pupils from years 3 – 9 join the school, Glendinning is seeking to recruit a number of additional staff.

These include an Assistant Head of School as well as more teachers, Higher Level Teaching Assistants and Teaching Assistants.   Adverts with job descriptions for the new roles, which will begin in September, are available at https://www.wavemat.org/vacancies


Notes to editors :

For further information or to do interviews please contact Trisha Hewitt at trisha@trishahewitt.com

Work on constructing the new purpose built school began in 2019, with a formal ground breaking ceremony led by the Chair of Devon County Council Councillor John Mathews and Wave CEO Rob Gasson taking place on 2 October 2019. 

The academy currently provides 54 places, rising the full 120 places for pupils between the ages of 7 and 19 by 2023.