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We’re investing in specialist educational provision in local communities; local children send anti-smoking message to grown-ups and engagement events to be held for communities hit by flash floods

From left: Dan Morrow, CEO of Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust; Mel Stride MP; Cllr Percy Prowse, Chairman of Devon County Council; Gareth Howells, Principal The Promise School

We’re investing in specialist educational provision in local communities

We want all children in Devon to achieve the best possible outcomes and fulfil their potential. High-quality education is an important part of this. With the number of children and young people who need specialist support in Devon increasing, we’re investing in new facilities. This ensure that the right provision is available in our communities to support pupils with additional needs to access a broad and inclusive curriculum in the very best environment.

This week we’ve celebrated the openings of not one, not two but three specialist educational buildings!

The custom-built Promise School in Okehampton (part of Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust), caters for up to 100 children aged four to 16-years-old who have social, emotional, and mental health (SEMH) needs. Its location was chosen to specifically address the lack of special school provision in the west Devon area, and means that children and young people in the area no longer have to travel distances to access quality learning that meets their individual needs.

A new £4.5 million extension at the Lampard Community School in Barnstaple also opened this week. It’s one of 12 special schools in Devon and it caters for children, aged five to 16-years-old, with complex needs. Their new two-storey Ocean Building is the final part of a refurbishment that will increase pupil capacity by 60 places and provides an additional five classrooms, sports hall, changing rooms, resource space, offices, stores and toilets.

In partnership with Great Torrington School, we’ve jointly funded a new £1.45m two-story teaching block connected to their main school building. As well as three new classrooms and a new library resource area, the expansion has also provided additional space for the school’s Hardy Centre, which supports pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and those who sometimes struggle with daily school life.

Local children send anti-smoking message to grown-ups

Play areas across Devon will soon be displaying signs asking people not to ‘smoke where we play’ after three school children won a competition to design a new sign.

We’ve been working with our neighbour, Torbay Council. We are both members of the Smokefree Devon Alliance, a partnership of local authorities and the NHS in Devon created to combat smoking in the county, and we set up a competition with a number of primary schools to find the best designs.

Our announcement of the signs coincides with the start of Stoptober next week, when smokers are encouraged to think about quitting. The signs are intended to reduce a child’s exposure to smoking to help prevent them from taking up the habit in the first place.

Their signs will be displayed in 23 play parks throughout Torbay while in Devon 112 signs, have been distributed to the county’s eight district councils, with Teignbridge District council opting to purchase additional signs.

You can read more about it on the news page of our website.

We are corporate parents to nearly 1,400 children. But what does that mean?

There are currently nearly 900 children and young people in our care, aged up to 18-years-old, and a further 500 young adults aged between 18 to 25-years-old who have left care, that we continue to support. 

Young people come into our care for a range of reasons. Sometimes it’s for a short time, for example if a parent is unwell and there’s no-one else to look after them; and other times it’s for longer, if it’s necessary for a child to be cared for by someone other than their parents for their own safety. It means that we have parental responsibility for that child, and that’s known as corporate parenting.

Corporate parenting is wider than just caring for a child or young person though. It is about working with partner agencies to ensure that care experienced people have good access to health, education, love and affection, and are supported to realise their dreams, goals and aspirations. It is about championing them, and ensuring that they are able to recover from any challenges that they have faced before entering our care. It is about ensuring that their previous experiences are validated, but that these do not define them and that they can live, grow and achieve, as well as and if not better than their peers.

Earlier this week we sent a special edition of our Connect Me newsletter, highlighting some of the work that we’re doing to support children and young people in care, and those young people who have now left our care. If you missed it in your inbox, you can catch up online.

Engagement events to be held for communities hit by flash floods

Communities impacted by the recent flash floods are being supported with a series of drop-in sessions over the coming weeks.

Initial investigations have found that more than 200 homes were flooded during the torrential rainfall on Sunday 17 September. As part of the ongoing flood recovery effort, we’re working with the Environment Agency, Exeter City Council, South Hams District Council, Teignbridge District Council and the Environment Agency to organise community engagement events.

The drop-in sessions will be an opportunity for residents to speak directly to teams involved in the flood recovery operation. They will be able to provide information on the flooding in their community and to discuss flood resilience measures with staff from all of the authorities and agencies in attendance.

Read the full story on the news page of our website to find out more about where and when the drop-in sessions are taking place, and which agencies will be there.

Volunteer Trainee Rangers

Would you like to develop your skills, gain training, qualifications and experience working as part of the Ranger Team at Stover Country Park? We have two full time trainee volunteer roles available. 

Applications close on Sunday 15 October.

Essential work planned for major structures as part of North Devon Link Road upgrade

The westbound carriageway of the A361 North Devon Link Road, between North Aller roundabout and Landkey roundabout, will be closed for a month from Wednesday 11 October to allow essential maintenance work to go ahead.

Online Speech, Language and Communication Workshops

Action for Children is running free online workshops with an Early Language Consultant about how to best support your little one with communication:

Respiratory infection guidance for a safer season

As we brace ourselves for chillier days, more indoor gatherings and seasonal social events with friends and family, now is the ideal time to revisit the current guidance on face coverings, isolation, vaccination and other behaviours that can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.