Plans are underway for The Willow School to open in Algakirk in the new year. The project is made possible by Darryll Loizou, owner of the site, who will partner with The Chelsea Group of Children, a renowned special needs primary school based in London. The Willow School will provide the local community with an educational setting that meets the special needs of children in the area. It aims to engage the students through outdoor learning experiences in a purpose-designated green space in the heart of the village.
Darryll’s own experience of raising a child with autism has given her direct insight into the challenges faced by carers in a similar situation. After a long search for a suitable learning environment for her son Nicholas, she was introduced to a special school in London – The Chelsea Group of Children. She never looked back; finally, Nicholas was able to flourish in his own way.
At The Willow School, pupils can expect an engaging learning experience, rich in sensory input. The Willow School will foster a culture of curiosity and give children a strong foundation to build upon. They will be immersed in nature and all activities will be meaningfully structured around this. As well as making happy memories, each child will be building their life skills to equip them for the next phase of their journey. Typical activities will include growing, picking and preparing fruit and vegetables, camp cooking and den building. Children will also tend to the animals and have access to the therapeutic centre. All activities will be purposeful and designed to help children reach their own potential.
Lincolnshire has a high number of children with specific and complex learning needs. Unfortunately, families and carers may have to look outside the county to find schools which suit the individual needs of their loved ones, often travelling many miles every day. The Willow School aims to address this current lack of provision in the area. It will also relieve the pressure facing existing schools and the local authority. Yet this is not a problem confined to the Lincolnshire area. Company director Dan Griffiths, who lives in Kent, also struggled to find a suitable placement for his son. Thankfully, they found a setting like The Willow School, which Dan says has been “enormously helpful”. “There simply aren’t enough of these places available,” he adds.