Pupils at Swiss Cottage special needs school enjoy leavers ball

Pupils at the Swiss Cottage School leavers ball. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Pupils at the Swiss Cottage School leavers ball. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Outgoing pupils at a special needs school bid a reluctant farewell to teachers and friends at a glitzy end-of-year dinner and dance.

Year 11 students at Swiss Cottage School and Development & Research Centre marked the end of their school days at a special leavers ball on Wednesday last week.

The formal function, held in the school hall, was a bittersweet moment for the pupils - as they move onto college courses across north London having enjoyed just a handful of months in the school’s new state-of-the-art facilities.

Headteacher Kay Bedford said: “They are excited about what they are moving onto and they are also a bit scared about what lies ahead – and they are sad about leaving.

“It’s really important we mark transitions for our children. We mark all transitions - including children coming into the school - and in many ways the final one is most important because it’s the summation of what they’ve done here and they are moving on somewhere else.”

The new £24million school building, in Avenue Road, Swiss Cottage, finally opened in October after a frustrating seven-week delay in building work from contractors BAM.

It meant pupils at the school were forced to begin the academic year in temporary classrooms dotted across north London.

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Lorna Bailey, deputy headteacher of the upper school, organised last week’s ball to celebrate the achievements of the 13 outgoing pupils, who have a range of learning difficulties.

She said: “I think this year has been quite a challenging year for them because they had to cope with being taught in three different locations so I thought let’s celebrate because we’ve done so well.

“Parents, friends, family members, learners and staff came together as a community to celebrate the outstanding progress made.”

Last Tuesday, the school also hosted a special cocktail party for residents living nearby as part of the Pigs4Kids campaign, backed by the Ham&High.

We are asking readers to raise £60,000 for the campaign to support the new Development & Research Centre at the school, by adopting special Pigs4Kids piggy banks, filling them up and returning them to us.

So far, the campaign has raised more than £22,000 for the new centre and has received the backing of a number of high-profile figures, including Hollywood star Kevin Spacey and education secretary Michael Gove.

Reflecting on the last nine months since the new school building’s opening, Ms Bedford added: “It’s not been without challenges [but] it feels like people are very settled in their roles at Swiss Cottage School and parents report that they are very happy with the progress their children are making.”