Many parishioners may be familiar with the outstanding local special school, Pictor Academy, not least because it was recently in the news for winning Best Primary School of the year at the Greater Manchester School Awards. Well-deserved recognition for its exceptional work with children whose difficulties range from physical disabilities to autism or general developmental delay.
What parishioners may not know about, however, is the close relationship that’s been forged over the years between Pictor and our own parish school, for the benefit of pupils from both. Head of St. Vincent’s, Anita Harrop thinks Pictor is “a very special place.” Whilst Jacqui Wheble, headteacher at Pieter, praises St Vincent’s inclusive approach. “St Vincent’s has welcomed our pupils with special needs with open arms.”
In practice, this has meant pupils from Pieter enjoying curriculum time at St Vincent’s, including RE lessons with a Catholic ethos, as well as access to other mainstream school events, such as sports day and mass, together with the associated social benefits. Likewise, children with identified need from St Vincent’s, have been welcomed to experience the specialist provision at Pieter, including therapeutic sessions in the school’s sensory room. Even St Vincent’s staff have had the benefit of Pictor expertise, in training on up-to-date autism approaches from the highly experienced teachers at Pictor.
No better example of this wonderful relationship at work, is in the visits Pieter choir has made to St Vincent’s infants, to sing Easter songs and Christmas carols, which all the children thoroughly enjoyed, much to the delight of both headteachers.
As both schools look forward to the future and continue to build these mutually beneficial connections, Jacqui Wheble observes, “It’s so enriching to have a link with another school that shares the same philosophy as Pictor; that every child is special.”