STUDENTS who are currently taught in portacabins in a farm shed are celebrating after permission was approved for a new permanent home.

SwitchED2 is a special school that provides alternative education for a small number of pupils who have particular needs.

Based near Grange, the new building will be constructed partly within and adjacent to the derelict bank barn at Ulpha Farm after planners at the Lake District National Park Authority gave it the green light.

Head teacher Andrew Coates said: “It is fantastic news. “We have been in the planning process for the past 18 months, so it has been a long process getting all the information together for various different surveys and reports to put together for the planning application.” SwitchED 2 offer alternative education to young people from the ages of nine to 16. This includes maths and English lessons in addition to outdoor education where pupils work with animals.

It is for those who struggle with mainstream schooling or a regular learning environment and receives pupils who have been referred from a local authority, school or enrichment placement. Mr Coates believes that the new building will improve their pupils’ experience at the school. “This will enhance what we currently offer even more," he said. “With being in portacabins we are limited to what we can do, so being in a more permanent structure we can enhance those activities.

The Westmorland Gazette:

The application received widespread support from parents and the local community. One parent who supported the plan said they had seen 'a dramatic and positive transformation' in their son. They wrote "In mainstream school he was building a sad portfolio of exclusions and his placement there was breaking down. At Switched2, he is now a thriving, increasingly co-operative and happy boy, who is engaged with the educational activities. "It has made a tremendous difference to all our lives."

The Westmorland Gazette:

Christine Carter, chairman at Witherslack, Meathop and Ulpha Parish Council added: “I am glad they have got the proposal through. “We fully backed it at the meeting, we thought it was great and hopefully the school can continue the good work that it is already doing.” The outline design scheme has been prepared to reflect the distinctive local character of traditional farm buildings in terms of form, scale, and materials. Mr Coates is hoping that the new school will be open by September 2022.