Independent school in Wigan gets go-ahead

Headteacher Richard King, Executive head Tony Brown, and school team Sheetal Parekh, Alistair Atkinson, Karl Wane and Scott Robinson at the new Expanse Learning centre
Headteacher Richard King, Executive head Tony Brown, and school team Sheetal Parekh, Alistair Atkinson, Karl Wane and Scott Robinson at the new Expanse Learning centre

A new special school is aiming to make great strides in Wigan after an education watchdog gave them an official seal of approval.


Wigan Independent Special School is registered for 31 students and began operating out of a former pupil referral unit building in Tyrer Avenue, Worsley Mesnes, last month.

Lisa Blakeley, second from left, with students at Expanse Learning Wigan, independent school for pupils with special educational needs, Tyrer Avenue, Wigan.

Lisa Blakeley, second from left, with students at Expanse Learning Wigan, independent school for pupils with special educational needs, Tyrer Avenue, Wigan.

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And this week the fledgling establishment, part of the Expanse Group, has been fully authorised by Ofsted and given its school number.

Inspectors have noted that the curriculum there is sufficiently broad and challenging enough to test pupils across a range of disciplines.

Lead inspector Sue Eastwood said: “It is evident that leaders have thought carefully about what they want the pupils to learn during their time at the school.

Lisa Blakeley and parent Andrea Foster at Expanse Learning Wigan, independent school for pupils with special educational needs, Tyrer Avenue, Wigan.

Lisa Blakeley and parent Andrea Foster at Expanse Learning Wigan, independent school for pupils with special educational needs, Tyrer Avenue, Wigan.

“The planning takes into account the specific and very individual needs of pupils, most of whom are likely to have special educational needs and/or disabilities.”

The annual fees for day pupils at the special school, which will cater for secondary age students, are between £16,000 and £22,000, according to Ofsted.

Headteacher Richard King said: “We are really proud of the fact that we have met or exceeded the standards set down by Ofsted.

“We really want to develop what we have to offer and become part of the educational framework in Wigan.”

Mr King has also praised the support offered so far by Wigan Council’s education department.

He added: “We have got a fantastic relationship with Wigan Council and we have worked very closely to develop our provision here.”

Mr King confirmed that there currently around a dozen pupils registered but the school also offered some individual support for young people, outside of mainstream education.

Before now the organisation has offered support internships for 16 to 25-year-olds in the Wigan area.

Their chief base locally is located at Leigh Sports Village, where their learning programmes cover everything from courses preparing special needs students for adulthood to help with work experience and skills within the workplace.

Similar provisions are offered from another office in Warrington, which is part of the town’s disability partnership centre.