Blomfield Special School in Whangārei is set to expand its outreach with the addition of two purpose-built classrooms at Bay of Islands College. This expansion comes as part of a new funding package announced by Education Minister Erica Stanford and Finance Minister Nicola Willis.

Currently, Blomfield Special School serves 156 high-needs students in the Northland region through satellite classrooms in various schools, in addition to its own campus. The school offers a range of services including occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech-language therapy, and behavioral support.

The funding package of $89 million in this year’s Budget will be used to upgrade existing classrooms and increase capacity for high-needs students. This initiative is part of the government’s focus on ensuring that vulnerable learners have access to essential services.

The announcement of $63 million in depreciation funding will go towards upgrading specialist schools in poor condition, while an additional $26 million in capital funding will be used to create additional capacity. Part of this funding will be allocated to Bay of Islands College for the new classrooms.

Blomfield Special School Principal Sally Wilkinson expressed her delight at the news, stating that the new classrooms will provide more options for parents of neurodiverse teenagers in the mid-north region. The current satellite classrooms are primarily for primary-school-aged students, so the addition of facilities for secondary-school-aged students is a welcome development.

Wilkinson also highlighted the importance of upgraded facilities in creating a positive learning environment for students. Many of the host schools where Blomfield operates its satellite classrooms are not fully accessible, limiting the school’s ability to support more students.

With the demand for specialist education on the rise, the need for improved facilities and increased capacity is evident. The focus on providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment for high-needs students is crucial for their development and well-being.

As the school looks towards the future, the addition of new classrooms at Bay of Islands College marks a significant step in expanding their reach and providing quality education for vulnerable learners in the Northland region.