Michael Gove visits The Abbey to learn about the crucial role of charitable funding in establishing outstanding provision for students in Surrey and Hampshire.
We were delighted to welcome the Right Honourable Michael Gove MP, Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath and Secretary of State for Education to The Abbey School on Friday 21st June.
Our Headteacher Chris Gardiner noted the outstanding curriculum and life-skills training the school offers could not have been sustained without the generosity of charities to fund much of the equipment in use in school. Indeed in the last eight years he has successfully made bids for around £400,000 in additional funds to benefit the students over and above the school’s government funding.
“Every pound has gone to improve the curriculum, equipment and ICT for all the students” he added,” if it were not for the generosity of local charities in Surrey and Hampshire we would never have been able to give our students the outstanding education that we offer them today. Students only have one opportunity at school and with the support of local charities we have been able to make a massive difference to their teaching and learning opportunities”.
The list of benefactors includes The Children With Special Needs Foundation, The Lions Club, The St James’s Place Foundation, The Hedgehogs, Farnham Round Table, The South Street Trust and The Inner Wheel, among others, who have funded major projects including the complete refurbishment of the teaching kitchen, practical skills and ICT suites and the school library as well as educational trips and visits. Furthermore, inclusion in educational opportunities offered by other providers, off-site life skills training, sports, trips and visits form a key part of the curriculum for students. This is only possible because the school has its own vehicles. The minibuses and people carriers the school has were all funded through charitable donations together with school fund-raising not from Local Authority funding. The maintenance and running costs are also subsidised by sponsors.
Mr Gove toured the school to see some of these facilities himself and met with students, even tasting some of the the products of their Food for Life lessons. He discussed school matters with members of the school council, before meeting with students who have benefitted from a unique charity-funded cycling scheme, he also spoke with students who have benefitted from significant off-site learning activities and residential trips. Mr Gove was very happy to present 28 iPads and an iPad server to the school and students on behalf of the 'Children with Special Needs Foundation', which is based in his own constituency, so that the students can continue to have the very best of ICT education. The Abbey is Surrey's only special school to have the national ICT Mark.
Accompanying Mr Gove on his visit were Chair of Governors, David Neal-Smith, and Vice Chair of Governors, Auriel Rankmore, with Gordon and Ann Parris founders of The Children with Special Needs Foundation.