Le Rondin School has launched a fund-raising campaign to replace its now obsolete sensory equipment with state-of-the-art technology that will provide "the greatest benefits to the widest range of children".
When the special educational needs school was opened in 2005, it included three interactive sensory rooms and a hydrotherapy pool area. Nearly 15 years on, the equipment has reached the end of its life and much of the technology has become obsolete.
As the replacement costs fall outside of the States of Guernsey Education budget, the funds need to be raised independently by Le Rondin School Parents, Staff and Friends Association (PSFA) with support from Wooden Spoon Guernsey and an array of private donors, business and charitable organisations including the Lords Taverners and the John Ramplin Trust.
The organisation brought over England Rugby World Cup winner Mike Tindall MBE, former England Rugby Sevens Captain Olly Phillips and Olympic 400m Silver Medallist Jamie Baulch for a special assembly at the school yesterday morning.
Olly Phillips, Karen Solway, the Lt-Gov Sir Ian Corder and Mike Tindall at the Government House reception.
That was followed by a private reception at Government House where Le Rondin School Singers performed for supporters of the fundraising campaign.
“The sensory rooms play a very important role in the life of our school, providing enhanced learning opportunities and therapeutic environments," said Le Rondin School Headteacher Paula Sullivan. "The new equipment will help us in our aim to become a centre of excellence in the application of technology to the teaching of children with additional needs. The new equipment will be of immense benefit to the children.”
“The fundraising campaign will allow us to update the equipment and once again provide state of the art facilities for the children and staff as well as for a variety of community groups who will also make use of the spaces.”
Yvonne Hodder, who was the Projects Operation Director (SEN) responsible for the development of the School, is once again leading the fundraising effort and gave a moving speech about its aims at Government House.
“We will be using virtual reality to provide interactive experiences that are either not possible or nor practical in the real world," she said. "Our kids are never going to get to the Sahara or the Arctic, but it [virtual reality equipment that can simulate these environments] is the next best thing."
"We will become a pioneer school and what a fantastic achievement that is for Guernsey."
Deputy Headteacher Christine De Kock with the special guests, who answered pupils' questions during Le Rondin's assembly time yesterday.
Le Rondin pupils Ryan Galsworthy, 10, Oakley Fletcher, 10, and Kayden Thomson, 11, all said they enjoyed playing in the soft play room and spending five to ten minutes when they needed it in the relaxation room, where the lighting and temperature can be adjusted to suit a child’s specific needs.
However, the equipment has been starting to malfunction and they hoped the facilities, which they said are "very important", will get upgraded.
The PSFA has raised £134,000 since the turn of the year but is also looking for islanders who would like to become Friends of Le Rondin School and donate a small amount on a monthly basis. This will enable the association to build up reserves so that equipment can be replaced, refurbished and upgraded as required and without the need for further fundraising campaigns in the future.
Olly Phillips, who is the National Lead Ambassador for Wooden Spoon, said it was clear to see that the community had got behind the school and recognised the vital role it plays in local education.
"We have seen the value that it can and hopefully will continue to deliver," he said. "When you see some of the pupils' enthusiasm and excitement and the good it will bring, it is as good a reason as any to support it."
Mike Tindall hoped to share a positive message with the children during the course of his visit.
"We were very lucky that we got the chance to go to the school," he said, "When we were at the school I encouraged them to be the best they can be."
Pictured top: Le Rondin Pupils with some of their special guests.
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