Nottinghamshire County Council Chairman Stuart Wallace officially opened the newly remodeled Newark Orchard School in a virtual opening ceremony.

Councilor Wallace was accompanied to an online opening Friday by representatives from the school and county council, as well as Robert Jenrick, Newark MP and secretary of state for housing, community and local government.

Kay Cutts, Chair of Nottinghamshire County Council, Philip Owen, Chair of the Children and Youth Committee, Headmistress Margot Tyers and Laura Redfern, Chairperson of the Headmasters attended the event.

A collage of images of the facilities of the new Orchard School in Newark. (45393281)

It is the first time a school opening ceremony has been held online in Nottinghamshire, which was required due to coronavirus restrictions.

Newark Orchard School in Balderton is a special school for students ages three to 18 that covers a wide range of complex needs.

The new school, which includes a day care center, was built as part of a £ 12 million rebuilding project.

A memorial plaque for the opening of the new orchard school.  (45393183)A memorial plaque for the opening of the new orchard school. (45393183)

The old school was split between two buildings in different locations in Newark, on Appletongate and London Road, the structure of the buildings being described as the worst in Nottinghamshire.

It’s all now in one place on London Road, which benefits both the students and the staff a lot.

The new school with modern, functional facilities includes a hydrotherapy pool, sensory rooms and an autism unit. It offers space for 140 children and young people and can be expanded to 170 spaces in the future. This will help meet the growing demand for special school places.

The new school and day center was funded by the Council with a contribution of GBP 1 million from the national government. The facilities were designed and built by the Arc Partnership.

Mr. Wallace said, “It was a great honor to officially open Newark Orchard School.

“A tremendous amount of time, hard work and dedication has gone into developing this new website.

“It has a much higher capacity for students and is home to a number of impressive new facilities.

“Improvements like this are not achieved by one person or group, but through the integrated work of school staff, the district council, contractors and the school community.

“The Newark Orchard School is a testament to what can be achieved by working together, especially in these troubled times.”

Mr. Owen said: “I was very excited about the online opening.

“This new school will support the education of young people for many years to come.

“We have received some very positive feedback from parents, families and the nearby community about the new building.

“The new school will help promote student independence and create a curriculum for the 21st century.

“I know that all school staff are committed to the education and wellbeing of children and youth and I am confident that they will continue to provide excellent education.”

Ms. Tyers said, “I am very pleased with our brand new, state of the art school. Our previous buildings were in two locations and were in poor condition.

“At Newark Orchard School, despite the facilities, we’ve always tried hard to live up to our school ethic, as we all know that the heart of a school is so much more than just a building.

“Now, however, we can help our students reach their full potential in environments that fully promote our ethos of ‘individual growth, individual people’.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to remember our former chairman of the governors, Lesley Booth, who has supported the school for over 25 years and who has sadly passed away. Together with our current Chair, Laura Redfern, she was instrumental in the campaign for our reconstruction and even accompanied Robert Jenrick on a visit to Parliament.

“She was a passionate advocate for her own son and has shared that passion with our students for many years. In fact, she was awarded an MBE for her service.

“To recognize her commitment, we named our new hydrotherapy suite after her.

“On behalf of our students, their families, and the staff, I want to thank the county council for realizing this dream and providing facilities we can be proud of for many years to come.”