On Friday, I visited the Applegarth Academy, a primary school in the Fieldway area of New Addington, to see their new enhanced learning provision for children with speech and language disorders.
For a number of years, the school has taken 18 children from across the borough with severe speech and language disorders. The children receive intensive support in small groups and on a one-to-one basis from teachers, teaching assistants and NHS speech and language therapists. The aim is to get as many of them as possible back into a mainstream class. I know the school well because my wife Karen used to work there as a speech and language therapist.
When Karen worked there, children from different year groups had to be taught together in one large room. However the previous Conservative Council invested £0.5 million to create better facilities. There are now three large, modern classrooms; a therapy room; an office; a meeting room; toilets; a changing room; and an outside soft play area. This means the children can now be taught in age-specific groups with no distracting background noise from another group working in the same room.
It was great to see the new facilities and hear about the progress the school as a whole is making.