A SCHOOL in Bucks for pupils with special needs has been given £50,000 by a local developer towards the cost of a life enhancing new facility for the students.

All this year Alfriston School in Beaconsfield has been raising money for “a fantastic” new performing arts and technology centre. It is due to be finished by the end of May next year.

The overall cost is £2 million. The gift of £50,000 from Inland Homes was an unexpected windfall.

The school’s 150 day girls and boarders aged from 11 to 18 have varying degrees of disability and needs.

Headteacher Jinna Male says the new two storey building with separate studios for dance, music and drama will raise standards even higher in every department.

The 233 sq metre new building attached to the existing school will include a double height main area for performances, a dance studio, music classroom and separate recording booth and technology suite.

“Having a special need should not be a barrier to learning but simply a reason to find a different route,” emphasises the head.

“All our students deserve to feel success and to build upon it. With the help of those who understand how difficult life can be for some, we hope to do just that.”

Her pupils are drawn from all over Bucks and neighbouring London boroughs.

The overriding aim at Alfriston is to prepare the girls for independent living, enabling them to pick up the social skills to help them integrate into their local community as naturally as anyone else.

Ms Male describes the new centre as a “Space to Shine.”

Last year the school was successful in securing a grant of £1.45m towards the building cost from the Government’s Condition Improvement Fund “but we need to raise an additional £500,000 to complete the building.”

Thanks to the generosity of parents, friends, local businesses and some charitable trusts £250,000 has been added to the kitty since March this year. A further quarter of a million should come close to finishing the job.

The fund-raising challenge immediately struck a note with Stephen Wicks, chief executive of Beaconsfield-based housebuilder Inland Homes.

“As soon as I heard about it, I wanted to get involved,” he says. The development company of which he is head honcho moved from Amersham to new offices in Beaconsfield Old Town six months ago. The first phase of 150 homes created from what was once the MoD School of Languages at Wilton Park at the entrance of the Old Town are due for release early in the new year.

Inland’s chief executive and his family have lived in Beaconsfield for ten years. “I drive past Alfriston School every day,” he says.

“It’s in everyone’s interests for local residents and local housebuilders to establish a good relationship. Quite a few local schools have students doing work experience on our sites.“The donation towards the new performing arts centre was a gesture of support for a local school doing a wonderful job. Eighty of our 170 staff are based in Beaconsfield. As locals we all feel a personal connection. Being involved with improvements to benefit a section of the community adds to the quality of life.”

If you’d like to help boost the funds for Alfriston’s new “space to shine” the school will be overjoyed. Call them on 01494 673740.