07 February 2022
Students at La Sente have thanked the Minister for Children and Education for delivering on his promise to provide their school with a much-needed new play area.
During a visit to La Sente, in May last year, Deputy Scott Wickenden asked students what improvements they would like to see in their school and the majority said that they would like "a softer outside play area."
Headteacher Tom Turner invited the Minister to La Sente, which supports students with social, emotional and mental health needs, to speak to the children, young people and staff and to tour the facilities, including the outside play area.
Deputy Wickenden said: "I would like to pay tribute to the students at La Sente for speaking up during my visit and telling me what they would like to improve their school. When I saw their outside facilities, which was a concrete ballcourt and heard that it was the only area where they could play I immediately asked officers to make it a priority to create a safer space for them to play.
"The outside area is used extensively for lessons, break and lunchtime activities, but it got very slippery and its use was very limited in wet weather. I left the visit and made a promise to the students that I would help improve their play area."
A plan was drawn up in the summer and a new astro pitch was installed in La Sente over the October half-term and completed in November 2021.
In a letter to Deputy Wickenden, La Sente students, wrote: "Thank you for putting astro on our ball court. The astro helps us with our grip so that we don't get hurt, which is much better than we had before. We really didn't think it was actually going to happen then we came back after half-term and it was almost done. It looks amazing and we are proud of it.
"Thank you for agreeing for the astro to be put on our ballcourt, we are grateful. It is so nice we could lay down and fall asleep on it. The astro is used every single day even if it is hailing outside! We hope that you can help us improve our school even more as we deserve it."
Headteacher Mr Turner said: "The new astro pitch is a much-need development at La Sente. The installation of the astro pitch surface has allowed for safer use, especially in wet conditions and is far more forgiving if a student falls due to the cushioned layer beneath the astro matting.
"The new green astro pitch has brightened what was a grey concrete area that is now used throughout the day, every school day, for PE lessons, breaks and lunchtime activities. In a school for students with social, emotional and mental health needs, we often utilise the area as an outside space to help youngsters re-regulate if they need space to support this as well as planned 'brain-breaks' as part of the learning programmes, which helps support students learning."