Charity in last push to build new school for children with complex needs

Seamab provides a residential service and education for children who may have experienced significant trauma.

A specialist school for children with complex needs in Kinross-shire says it needs a last financial push to help build a new facility, as its current one isn’t fit for purpose.

Seamab provides a residential service and education for children from all over Scotland who struggle with mainstream schooling and may have experienced significant trauma.

Nestled in the rolling hills of Perth and Kinross, the former private home now caters for around 60 students.

They come from all over Scotland, and range from as young as five years old right up to 18, each with their own background story, and it’s rarely a happy one.

Claire Stephen, head of education, told STV News: “They have come from really, really difficult places but they haven’t been able to access mainstream education for many reasons.

“Many of those reasons are just awful, there’s a lot of them care-experienced, a lot of them have experienced significant traumas in their lives.”

And that can lead to behavioural challenges for the staff who say the current building is simply not fit for purpose.

CEO Stuart Provan said: “The building, the environment, actually creates difficulties from the word go. It doesn’t feel like a school, it’s a converted house so, therefore, maybe children’s own expectations of their learning is somewhat diminished from the word go.

“But then there’s the noise factor, there’s the narrow corridors, there’s a lack of privacy, all of these factors can make it difficult and there’s a bit of a knock-on effect if someone is having a bad day, for example. We would love to be able to separate that out a little bit.”

But it’s the physical activity space that is most needed, such as the school’s gym.

Staff members like Jody Cannon have witnessed how the children react after lessons from sports stars like Robbie Neilson and Chris Paterson.

Mr Cannon said: “Children that have had adverse experiences like they’ve had here, they need to be physically active and we need to give them opportunities.”

Plans for a new school are complete, and they’re just over £1m off their target.

A better building means better expectations and hopefully better outcomes for the children who deserve it most.