Our School


A reflective and supportive community,

Our school is a Special School and Children’s home for boys from 5-18, with Behavioral Difficulties, Mental Health Issues and Learning Difficulties. (We are not a state run school, but are a charity and children and young people can only be referred to our school, via a referral by Social Services or by a Mental Health Professional.) We have 150 pupils on role. Our kids are taught in smaller groups, supported by Teaching Assistants and 1 – 1 support workers. The school is very informal and so we do not have a school uniform as such. The only rules are that pupils do not wear jeans, t-shirts with logos on them and that all pupils must wear a school hooded top.

School Site-Plan
School Site Plan which shows how big the school is. (Ground and Basement Levels) The main building, B Block, C Block and J Block also have upper levels

Our school is a large site, (Built in the mid 1800s, with around 10 achres of land in the Durham Countryside) which is made up of several blocks, with the addition to Specialist Classrooms for Food Tech, Drama, Arts and Music. These subjects are used in the curriculum and also are used as therapy. Therapies are a core component of our school and are a daily part of the school day. On our residential Units, we have Play Specialists, who, (along with the care staff) organised activities for the kids. Play Specialists also provide a distraction, when one of the kids have treatment on Sick Bay. (Some of the kids have to have injections, which can be frightening, so Play Specialists are an important part of the residential provision we provide.

One of our Classrooms in C Block

Our School is lucky to have such supportive and caring Staff. In addition, we have a very supportive Head Teacher, (Karen) who leads such a professional team, to help the kids empower themselves and aim high!

The school is not on mains sewerage, so underneath the Junior Playground, we have a huge waste water storage tank. The tank bottom is 5 metres underneath the playground, with a drainage port at the side of the Boiler House. We have our tank emptied every month and pumping is not allowed during school hours.

Underneath the Senior Playground, is the Oil tank for the Central Heating and Hot Water. Underneath the Laundry, is a room with the large diesel tanks, which power our bank of generators, which we use for emergency power. Our generators can run for 2 weeks on full  load and we can have emergency supplies of fuel delivered if needed.

Our Emergency Generators are ready for what ever life throws at us

Our Emergency Generators are connected to their own online and offline substations. One is Substation is connected permanently to the grid, The other remains switched off until it’s needed. the automatic transfer switch, detects when the voltage has dropped and switches to emergency power. Once the voltage returns to normal, mains power will not be restored for 20 minutes and will remain on emergency power for the duration.

The below diagram, explains how the power distribution for our school works.


A bank of batteries, provides enough power, to operate the automatic transfer switch and to operate relays, which close the contacts on the disconnect switch, to allow power to pass through the offline generator. Finally, the air powered Circuit Breaker, prevents a surge or an overload.

air circuit breakers use a “closing device”, known as a “stored energy mechanism,” for fast, positive closing action. Energy is stored by compressing large powerful coil springs that are attached to the contact assembly of a circuit breaker. Once these springs are compressed, the latch may be operated to release the springs, and spring pressure will shut the circuit breaker.

The offline Substation and the 4 main generators are in the basement, between J and D block in what is known as the Power Plant.  (The power plant has it’s own building btw, and is partially below land.) In the generator room, we have 4 huge generators, which power the main school buildings, the lights, fire alarm system, CCTV, security doors,  heating system etc.

J Block has a set of generators on the roof, which provide power to J block, should there be a power failure.

OK, enough my techno mumble jumble…

We have 6 Residential Units in our large Residential Block, which is adjacent to the  main school Building. (Junior House)  was knocked down in 1982 and a modern block, built in it’s place. Click here to find out about our Boarding Facilities.

Our School has secret passages, rooms and hidden doors!

Being a really old building, main building, (A Block) is riddled with secret passages. Only a few of these passages are blocked off now. (You can still get to the secret passages, but they are blocked off at the other end) One of these is the passage that leads to the stairs to the Clock Room. At the front of A Block, we have a tower, which contains the clock on the outside of the building. Inc. the chiming mechanism and bells.) To get to the Clock Room, you have to walk up to the top floor of the building. The secret door to the Clock Room is in the Staff Room and usually has chairs in front of the hidden door. Towards the bottom of the paneled wall, (next to the hidden door) is a hidden button, which looks like a normal panel. If you push the panel, the door clicks and u can push the panel to enter. It leads up a flight of steps to the Clock Room, which is underneath the bell room. (The bell still works btw and chimes every half hour and on the hour! Our Head has a secret door in the fireplace in her office, (Leading down to a blocked off passage in the basement) and there are hidden stairs , which take you to various parts of A Block. (Handy for me, it gets me around the building quickly!)

Keeping Our School Looking It’s Best Is A Mammoth Task! 

I have a large “Site Team”, made up of Caretaking Assistants, Housekeeping \ Domestics and Grounds Staff. Keeping the school clean is a mammoth task and per day we*:

Hoover a staggering 13 miles of carpets, in Classrooms, Offices, Corridors, unit lounges, bedrooms and stairs
Clean 60 toilets, trough, free standing and bowl Urinals, and 120 Wash Basins \ sinks
Clean 30 showers, 10 bathtubs, 4 Parker Baths and 6 Walk In Baths
Mop 6 miles of Lino in the Canteen, Toilets, Changing Rooms, Shower Rooms and Bathrooms, plus the tiles on Poolside.
We use 12 bottles of Sanitiser spray every day, on tables and other surfaces.
We use 20 bottles of Commercial Toilet cleaner every day
We use 10 litres of Commercial Pine \ Lemon Disinfectant every day, on floors and other surfaces
We use 10 litres of Floor maintainer each day
We use 9 bottles of Sticky Stuff remover a day, to remove chewing gum from carpets and furniture
We use 20 hoover bags each day
We use 15 bottles of Polish each day
We use over 30 cleaning cloths each day, (which go to the laundry after use)
We empty 80 bins each day (from Classrooms, Offices, the Staff Room, Canteen, Units and the Playgrounds)
We replace around 20 jumbo and Mini Jumbo rolls of Loo Paper each week.
We use 15 bottles of glass spray on interior glass and mirrors.
We clean 40 whiteboards every day
Over 400 windows are cleaned on a fortnightly basis, by a contractor.
We have a fleet of 15 Surbo Upright Vacuum Cleaners and 7 Henry Vacuum Cleaners
We have fleet of 5 Numatic Floor Polishers and and 5 ride on Numatic Scrubber Washer Dryers
We have a fleet of 10 cleaning trollies, 20 sets of coloured socket mops \ buckets and 10 fluffy mops
The Laundry washes 10,000 items every week, from the boarders clothes, chef whites, cleaning cloths, tea towels, bath towels, swimming and sports kits, bath mats, bed sheets, duvet covers, pillow cases, staff uniforms etc.
The Housekeeping Team has 2 Domestic Supervisors, 7 housekeepers \ Domestics working in J Block (Boarding Block) and 7 domestics working in the school.
Housekeepers and Domestics work 7am – 3pm in J Block, from 8am – 3pm and Domestics work 3pm – 8pm in the main school.

** Estermated