Special schools set up shop to break down social barriers

Sovereign Centre. Ravenswood School students running a gift shop. Picture: MARK ATHER

Sovereign Centre. Ravenswood School students running a gift shop. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

Two special schools have teamed up to open a shop in Weston to enhance pupils’ skills and raise awareness of disabilities.

Baytree School, in Worle, and Ravenswood School, in Nailsea, have opened a unit in the food court of the Sovereign Shopping Centre.

The schools are working together to provide more opportunities for their pupils and to benefit the local community.

Mark Senior, headteacher at Ravenswood School, said: "It's an amazing opportunity for our schools, pupils and the wider community to work together.

"The pupils are gaining valuable real-life skills that will benefit them now and for the future. I would like to thank the Sovereign Centre for this opportunity.

"We hope Baywood will provide a social and educational experience for all those involved, pupils and customers."

Baywood will provide shared learning opportunities for students and the local community.

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Pupils will be able to enhance their skills to prepare them for jobs after they leave school, as well as boost their social skills by interacting with the public.

Education leaders at Baytree and Ravenswood hope the shop will help to raise awareness of disabilities and break down social barriers and misunderstandings.

Headteacher of Baytree School, Ed Bowen-Roberts, said: "This joint school venture is providing our learners with the experience of working within a shop environment, developing art and creative skills and interacting with members of the public.

"We hope the Baywood Shop will not only support our learners but also raise awareness to the public and employers of the achievements and potential of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

"We would like to thank North Somerset Council and the Sovereign Centre for helping to kick-start this project, and we hope you all come down and visit."

Pupils are keen to sell artwork, photography and enterprise projects to the local community at Baywood Shop.

The schools will run free workshops for the public and businesses on topics such as SEN, sign language and autism.

The shop will be open Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 10am to 2pm for the next six weeks.