Former Misterton School site given green light to continue supporting Somerset young people

The former Misterton school site has been given the green light to help up to 15 Somerset vulnerable children and young people improve their educational and life outcomes after a Somerset County Council key decision made today (5 August).

Somerset County Council, in partnership with the Diocese of Bath and Wells, is working to support the development  of therapeutic education provision at Misterton, where Somerset’s vulnerable children will be able to re-engage with education. The provision will be a Church of England School in a church-owned building. The Diocese reached out to Somerset County Council to find an innovative education use for the building  for Somerset children in early 2022.

Somerset County Council put forward a proposal to adapt the former Misterton School site into a special therapeutic educational centre, providing  for up to 15 children and young people as part of the new ‘Homes and Horizons’ project.

‘Homes and Horizons’ is an innovative partnership between Somerset County Council, Homes2inspire, part of the national charity Shaw Trust, and the NHS in Somerset. It will provide educational and therapy services at Misterton.

‘Homes and Horizons’ aims eventually to have two therapeutic centres in the county to support Somerset’s young people, with another location yet to be chosen.

Misterton will be open 50 weeks of the year and most young people will attend 2-3 days with the rest of week spent at mainstream schools.

Drama and arts therapy will take place alongside Maths and English and other core curriculum subjects supporting the young people to grow and thrive. Therapy and counselling sessions will also take place in specially purposed meeting rooms and space will be allocated for teachers and social worker offices.

Through the autumn the Diocese and Somerset County Council  are looking forward to engaging with Somerset children and the local community as the proposal develops.

Cllr Tessa Munt, Executive Lead for Children’s Services at Somerset County Council said: “Homes and Horizons will help our most vulnerable young people have a place to feel safe, live and learn, where they are listened to, cared for and understood so they can grow and thrive. It will lead to them achieving better education results, better mental health and wellbeing and improved life chances. It’s great the decision has been made to use the former Misterton school site for a new chapter in improving young people’s lives and is a significant step in providing much needed specialist care.”

Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton, says, “We are delighted to be working with Somerset County Council and to be able to continue our commitment to education on the Misterton School site with our first Church of England specialist education facility in Somerset. Every child deserves the opportunity to live life in all its fullness and we hope and pray that the care and education  the children receive at the centre will help them, and their loved ones, enjoy a much brighter future.”

Paul Cook, Homes2Inspire Managing Director, said: “We are very pleased to have this facility to support young people with complex needs through education and into work in Somerset. Shaw Trust is a recognised leader in education provision through our multi-academy Shaw Education Trust, founded to improve opportunities for disabled children into employment, and our training and skills division, Ixion, an Ofsted Grade 1 training provider.  Misterton will enable us to provide the best therapeutic education for children that will improve their academic success and, arguably more importantly, their sense of wellbeing and self-worth, giving them the tools to achieve their potential.”

Andrew Keefe, Deputy Director of Commissioning – Mental Health, Autism, & Learning Disabilities, NHS Somerset “The development of the Misterton site to support some of our most vulnerable young people in Somerset is a critical first step. It is vitally important that we support these young people to succeed and be the best they can be, which can be achieved through supporting them to get a good education and thereby supporting their emotional wellbeing and mental health. By developing a special facility, which is tailored to meet their needs is a critical first step in our ambition to improving the lives and mental wellbeing of children and young people in the county.”   

The project is expected to be completed ready for opening by September 2023 with the second site expected to be open by September 2024.