Two senior officials from the Department of Education visited staff and pupils at Heron Academy on Friday to find out more about the special school and its improvement journey.

The Department for Education’s Director General for Schools, Juliet Chua and Director General for Families, Justin Russell were shown around the school, which provides care and education for 11–19-year-olds with PMLD and SLD.

Headteacher Melanie Hall-Judd, Trust Deputy CEO Neil Miller and Chair of the Trust, Rama Venchard spoke with the visitors about the school and its provision, focusing on the progress that’s been made since joining London South East Academies Trust in February 2023.

Discussions also took place about the challenges currently being faced by special schools, including funding issues and the longer-term impact of the pandemic.

The visitors were then taken for a tour, seeing staff and students in classrooms undertaking a wide range of activities including art and therapy sessions. School dog Benji was also on hand to help out.

Commenting on her visit, Juliet Chua CB, said: “Thank you! It was really powerful seeing your staff and pupils today. Seeing your growth is fantastic and clearly a huge amount of work has been undertaken.”

Neil Miller added: “I am so proud of leaders, staff and pupils at Heron Academy. The school is such a fantastic PLACE to be and the improvement seen here over the last few months, led by Melanie, is incredible. Thank you to everyone at the school for their hard work, positive attitudes and commitment to giving pupils the best possible experience every single day.”

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