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Council gives thumbs up to Joseph Clarke development plans

Council planning decision opens the way for enlarged and improved Joseph Clarke School

Waltham Forest’s planning committee approved plans to expand, rebuild and renovate the Joseph Clarke School yesterday, opening the way for fully accessible buildings and improved teaching facilities. Joseph Clarke, part of Whitefield Academy Trust caters for children with vision impairment and/or complex needs and attracts pupils from both within and outside Greater London. However the school needed to replace its ageing buildings and infrastructure.

“We’re absolutely delighted” commented Ms Elaine Colquhoun the Executive Principal of Whitefield Academy Trust “This is a new opportunity to further develop the school, building on its rich history and providing more places for children with vision impairment and/or complex needs. I would like to thank both the councillors and the local residents who gave us their support”.

Newly appointed Headteacher Maureen Duncan said “This is tremendously exciting – This decision today will ensure that the school will be able to offer the very best education for young people with vision impairment and complex needs for decades to come.”

The improvements, which are expected to cost over £3 million, will see porta cabin classrooms make way for a two-storey block and a new reception area with ramp access, while the children's playground will also be expanded in size. But while the rebuilding work has taken centre stage in planning discussion, a large proportion of the money will be used to directly improve learning resources: New IT, braille technology and low-vision aids all included in the project.

The Council decision means that the Trust can start work immediately on scheduling work, which it hopes will begin soon after the Easter holidays. The School is committed to working with the local community as far as possible and will be adding a new section to the Joseph Clarke Web site designed to keep local residents updated as the redevelopment timetable becomes firmer.

Members of the school council show off the new school plans with Maureen Duncan and Elaine Colquhoun (back row)