Today marks the official opening of The Newton Suite.
This newly designed space sees an improved Library and Additional Needs base. New lighting, shelving, flooring, signage and a larger room providing greater flexibility. We’re pleased to have secured over 1 million pounds of investment in the school site this year, helping us to take bigger year groups and develop our facilities for the benefit of our students.
In this new space it is easier to extract more students from lessons to benefit from additional support and to use the resources available – computers, tablets and paper-based resources. But it’s the people that make this space come alive – the staff who work to help individuals and we have a brilliant team in Additional Needs. This larger open plan space allows this team of staff to work fluidly across the space.
Being surrounded by books is good for you. Books are symbols of opportunity – think of all the adventures, experiments, ideas, stories, facts and learning contained in this space…And when many public libraries are being closed, we feel our well-stocked comforting library is more important than ever. Social media has its place…but books are vital. They calm us. They nourish us. They contribute to our wellbeing. This space is full of students escaping into books at break, lunchtime and during Study Club after school.
Mrs Drury suggested we name this area after Sir Isaac Newton - a complex and brilliant thinker. Newton was born in Woolsthorpe. Lincolnshire and so that’s one reason the name is perfect; he is part of our county’s heritage. Many believe that some of the world’s greatest thinkers - brilliant mathematicians, scientists, musicians - had additional needs. Newton is believed to have had Aspergers Syndrome which many of you will have heard of – you’ve certainly heard of Autism.
At LCA we believe Additional Needs are simply that – they mean that students may have some additional requirements: more time, extra help, clearer explanations, an adult helper, an overlay, smaller chunks of work, bigger font in books, less noise, less colour…And sometimes the additional need calls for more: more understanding, more time, more organisation. And sometimes it’s not about more or less, it’s just different…different strategies, different approaches, different ways of working.
Sir Isaac Newton’s additional needs included the following traits: obsessive interests, difficulty in social relationships, and problems communicating. But, of course, these characteristics contributed to his success. Apparently Newton went for periods when he hardly spoke, was so engrossed in his work that he often forgot to eat, and was lukewarm or bad-tempered with the few friends he had. If no one turned up to his lectures, he gave them anyway, talking to an empty room. He could be challenging and difficult. But he was brilliant – superb logic and ferociously single minded. And he was brilliant not in spite of his additional needs, but, because of them.
He was knighted, now buried in Westminster Abbey, like Darwin, Einstein, Michelangelo or Mozart, as someone with additional needs, he made an immeasurable contribution to the world. Like so many of our students, he also had to overcome huge challenges as a looked after child who experienced bullying. He developed enormous resilience, like so many of our students.
One of the mistakes people sometimes make is that they forget that with additional needs, we often see additional benefits in the form of additional insights, additional talents.
So, as we open the Newton Suite we feel thankful for the staff that work here, who believe in you and your unique talents. In 2018 we recognise that humans don’t all view the world in the same way, that we live in a time when we embrace diversity and different ways of seeing. This space will, we hope, will allow more students to feel supported, empowered and ultimately to thrive in the future.