Charity Awards 2024

Yorkshire Children’s Charity

Upgrading SEND schools by corralling pro bono support from commercial partners

Yorkshire Children’s Charity spearheaded a partnership between the private, public and charity sectors to upgrade a school for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), which has delivered life-changing, state-of-the-art facilities for 100 children and generations of future pupils.

Yorkshire Children's CharityMore than half of SEND schools in England are oversubscribed and underfunded, and as a result, facilities and resources are often overcrowded and insufficient.

Yorkshire Children’s Charity has developed a Great Yorkshire Build blueprint which formalises the core approach, processes and actions required to deliver a successful build project, including key stakeholders to be engaged, core project team roles and responsibilities, key milestones, meetings, and risk assessment and management.

This acted as a tried and tested foundation for an upgrade at Brooklands School, Skipton, which was chosen because it lacked any purpose-built rebound therapy or sensory facilities; had very few books or toys; its early-years classrooms were cold and dark and lacked easy outdoor access, and it had had little recent investment.

Multiple site visits by the team and collaborative planning meetings led to a new needs-led and co-produced design for the site, and staff worked closely with pupils to understand their wants and needs.

The Great Yorkshire Build is designed upon an 80:20 funding ratio, where 80% is gift in kind from the property sector for the capital build, and 20% is from Yorkshire Children’s Charity for equipment and specialist provisions. Some 67 contractors committed their time, resources and materials entirely pro bono.

Through the Great Yorkshire Build, the space and facilities at Brooklands have been transformed, and now provide both a therapy room and a sensory room.

Parents and teachers have reported measurable improvements in the way pupils’ education and healthcare needs are being met, their happiness and wellbeing, and their engagement and enthusiasm for learning.

Gifts in kind of around £800,000 have now been secured for a new Great Yorkshire Build this year at Hilltop School in Rotherham.

Charity Awards judge Shane Ryan, senior adviser to the National Lottery Community Fund, praised the partnership aspect of the scheme, adding: “It is an amazing achievement to get so many organisations to work together, and a truly innovative way to build a project.”

Anne Fox, CEO at Clinks, said: “I absolutely love this – everyone should be so proud of being part of this, it’s brilliant. It’s a really clever, community-building, sustainable and cost-effective way to meet hugely unmet need in a way that builds community and delivers social value for local businesses as well as outcomes for the children involved and many more to come.

“It’s a model that could be replicated across the country and with national partnerships. The value for money and sustainability are built in due to the pro bono delivery and the scale of partnerships, so there’s a great mixed-income model and lack of overreliance on any one revenue stream.”

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