"Outdoor classroom" approved for pupils at a Preston school

Sir Tom Finney Community High School, where work is due to begin on the new classroom within a week
Sir Tom Finney Community High School, where work is due to begin on the new classroom within a week
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Pupils attending a special school in Preston will soon be able to enjoy themselves in a new “outdoor classroom”.

Sir Tom Finney Community High has been granted permission for the new facility, which will be used as a dedicated play area. Sand and water-based activities are just some of the treats in store for children at the Ribbleton Hall Drive school.

Jen Jukes, the school’s business manager, says that the extension will be of a similar design to those usually associated with mainstream primary schools.

“Although our pupils are aged between 11 and 19, some of our lower-level learners learn best through play – and this kind of space is something which they can really benefit from.

“The sort of things we can put in here will help meet their sensory and physical needs. It will also free up space in our existing classroom,” she explained.

In spite of the ‘outdoor’ moniker, steps will be taken to ensure that the new facility is not too parky for the pupils who will be using it.

“It will be fully insulated so that it can be used even when the weather is bad. Some of our children feel the cold, because of their mobility,” Jen added.

The proposal won unanimous support when it was brought before a meeting of Lancashire County Council’s development control committee.

Committee member and Preston East county councillor Kevin Ellard said he “fully welcomed” the extension, which will be built out of a dark oak-coloured material with grey roof panels.

As part of the same permission, the school was also given the go-ahead to construct a canopy at the main entrance to provide shelter for pupil and their support workers, as well as protection for the foyer area when the doors are open in wet weather.

Retrospective approval was also granted for a garage which has already been built.

The application received one objection from a resident who claimed that existing activities at the school created parking problems in the area.

But principal planning officer Jonathan Haine said that the new facilities would not lead to an increase in pupil numbers.

“The development is small in scale and therefore acceptable in terms of local amenity,” he said.