17 September 2020

Today was a very special day for staff at Glendinning Academy, Wave’s new special free school for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), as they welcomed their first 54 new pupils.


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, four academies based in Devon and the Community and Hospital Education Service (CHES) & Torlands based across three centres in Devon and Cornwall. 

“Glendinning is our first special school and we have worked closely with families, partners and multi-professional teams during the past twelve months to ensure that our new school will meet pupils’ needs and provide an ethos where they feel secure, are encouraged to talk, are listened to and feel safe” said Wave CEO Rob Gasson.


“Today has been a very exciting day as we have welcomed our first cohort of pupils and their families through the doors of their new school and have begun on a new journey of learning, fun and achievement”.


Working closely with Devon County Council, the school will provide 120 new school places for children and young people between the ages of 7 and 19 who would benefit from a special school environment because of barriers to learning, which include sensory processing needs and anxiety by 2023.

Work on constructing the new purpose built school on the former Milber Infant school site in Newton Abbot, began last year, 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. 

While construction work continued during the pandemic, the impact of the social distancing regulations has led to a short delay in completing the works. This has meant that the building in Newton Abbott is not ready for the start of the new term. 

To ensure that the school was able to welcome its first new pupils today as planned, Wave worked with Devon County Council and the Department of Education to provide a temporary base at Place House in Ashburton for the first term while the final works are completed on the main building. 

“While we are a little disappointed not to be in our wonderful new building, Place House offers a lovely alternative” said Principal Jackie Taylor. “We have all the facilities we need to provide the full curriculum to our pupils as well as ensuring that our temporary home provides the same supportive ethos as other Wave settings”.


The curriculum at Glendinning is designed to develop children’s communication and interaction skills in a different environment to that of a traditional classroom. With smaller class sizes than a traditional school and greater levels of personalisation, staff can make sure that individual needs of each child are at the heart of their education. 

Set in the context of nature, the school is focused on learning outdoors and through practical experience.  The aim 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.

Devon County Council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for schools, James McInnes, said: “We have seen an unprecedented growth in the demand for support for children with special educational needs over the last few years”.


“Over the past three years we have increased the places available in our own special schools by 20 per cent but even so demand continues to grow. There are 7,000 children with Education, Health and Care Plans in Devon – that’s more than doubled over the past six years. The majority can be successfully supported in our mainstream schools and Devon supports a higher than average number of children in our mainstream schools. But some of the most vulnerable children need to be educated in a special school”.


“Our paramount concern is obviously to provide the best possible education and care for them. But an average place in an independent special school often costs twice as much as a place in one of Devon’s own special schools. And often children have to travel away from their homes – and sometimes out of the county – to access a place in an independent school. So it makes sense for their welfare and well-being as well as providing a more cost effective option”.


As well as Jackie and her team of teachers and support staff, there was one additional member of staff waiting to welcome the new pupils on their first day of term - Rory, the school’s trainee therapy dog.

Now just over eight months old Rory, a Portuguese Water Dog, has been living with a local family while receiving therapy dog training from local company Bales Buddies.  Newton Abbot Rotary Club have very kindly sponsored Rory, including his first 2 years of training. Fund raising will continue to ensure Rory’s on-going costs are met.

Today’s opening of Glendinning Academy marks the latest stage in a very exciting journey for Wave.  Earlier this year the trust was chosen by the Department for Education to open a new special free school in Somerset, and  last week they entered into a new long term partnership with Together for Families, part of Cornwall Council, to support vulnerable children in Cornwall.

Under the terms of the new 10-year contract the Council and Wave will work together in partnership to support those children who are at risk of exclusion or for those pupils who have already been permanently excluded from school.  

Wave have also agreed a new two year contract with Cornwall Council to provide education for pupils who are not able to attend school due to medical or health reasons and education services for the Sowenna Inpatient unit for young people.



Note to editors

Wave Trust provides education for students across the whole of Cornwall and Devon who are excluded from school or who are not in school for medical reasons.

The main provider of Alternative Provision education in Cornwall, Wave has been providing the service since 1st June 2013, initially as Acorn Academy Cornwall following the academisation of the PRUs, and as Wave MAT from the 1st June 2018.

Wave currently has 346 staff and supports 437 pupils in Cornwall and 334 in Devon.

Glendinning Academy has 54 pupils on roll in school years 3 to year 8, with 29 members of staff.

 The new building is due to be completed in mid-November, with the staff and pupils moving to the site permanently in January.