A HEAD teacher of a special needs school has said he is “absolutely delighted” at the news it has been nominated for a Community Stars award.
Nick Dry, head teacher at Palatine Primary School, in Palatine Road, Worthing, said the nomination was a “testament” to the school and the teachers’ hard work.
He said: “It is great that people recognise the school, because one of the difficulties of being a special school is the majority of people in the area do not attend and many will have not seen us unless they have a child in special education.”
Currently, 100 pupils from the Worthing and Littlehampton area attend the primary school but this is due to increase to 105 in September.
The children, aged from four to 11 years old, have a huge variety of needs, ranging from being physically disabled to having moderate or severe learning difficulties, or autism.
Between 30 and 50 per cent of the children at the school have started after an unsuccessful experience at a mainstream school.
Carol Steward, 54, of Montpelier Gardens, Washington, is one of two people who have nominated the school for the award.
Her grand-daughter, eight-year-old Shakira Rooney, has developmental delay, learning difficulties and epilepsy.
The youngster attended a mainstream school for three years before she was moved to the Worthing school.
Carol said: “Those three years were the most unpleasant three years of her life, and ours.
“I do not think she attended mainstream school a lot of the time as we could not get her there because it distressed her so much to go to school.
“If you walk into Palatine School it is like an oasis.
“It is quiet, peaceful and when you go into all the classrooms all the children are working.
“When you go into a mainstream school it is noisy and a hubbub and for my grand-daughter it was an absolute no-no.
“It really made her freak out.”
She added: “They have given me back my grand-daughter.”
Carla Ranson also nominated the school and said: “My niece has special needs and struggled in mainstream school.
“Since being here she is a totally different child.
“The school and staff are amazing.”
Nick said he believed the children benefited from the small, friendly classes and the dedicated staff which help further their learning.
He added: “I have to say the primary schools do all try to meet their children’s needs but some eventually really struggle.
“We will take any child who would not be suitable for mainstream schooling in the Worthing and Littlehampton area.”
He added: “Our pupils are a real part of the community and it is important everybody recognises they are.
“A lot of our children will have a lot to contribute as they get older.”