By Clair Hill - August 30th, 2022 | Posted in Article

At the Link we have been educating children and young people with communication and additional needs since the early sixties. Our founder Francois Tomlin was relentless
in her vision to provide a quality education to children who were missing out on any kind of support from local services and to make sure that the school made a tangible
difference to the long-term future of the young people and their families.

Francois was an innovator ahead of her time. Her influence has been finely weaved into The Link culture over the years and remains very much part of who we are today. Through the dedication of staff and parents during the years under the Link Trust, up to conversion to Academy status in 2017 and beyond we have continued to put children and families at the heart of all that we do.

The OHCAT mission talks about enabling and championing the talents, skills and rights of the most vulnerable people in our society in order to release their potential, promote their wellbeing and transform lives. As we draw near to amalgamation of the Link schools in September as one school, working across three sites, this mission will continue to be our driving force. Our new school strap line of “Digging Deep to Aim High” reflects our desire to understand our children and young people and put them at the centre of their learning, overcoming barriers today so that young people and parents can look forward to a bright future tomorrow.

Practically, we are on track for The Link School amalgamation in September. The school will have one name, “The Link” and one DfE number with a clear vision to support children
through their best pathway to adulthood using effective strategies consistently through the key stages. There will be increased opportunities to learn from the expertise of experienced education and therapeutic staff across the sites as well as the opportunity to share resources.

The Primary site has undergone some positive site works in recent years culminating in the completion of the new playground apparatus this year. Further works are planned to extend the continuous provision and art engagement areas over the next year which will give our pathway 1 learners larger and more robust outdoor learning spaces. The Secondary site also has some changes planned for the outside spaces, including a safety gate and fence at the front of school with a newly tarmacked car park. The students are really looking forward to the new playground plans, phase 1 of which is due to be completed over the Summer holiday with the installation of a MUGA football and basketball pitch. Important capital works will be taking place throughout the summer to ensure the new satellite site is ready to receive our young people in the Autumn term. The site is spacious with large classrooms and wide-open space for outdoor activities. The children transferring to the site and the new students registered with the school are excited about the playground equipment, particularly the huge pirate ship in the grassed play area.

The expansion to meet the needs of local children with autism and a demand avoidant profile has been part of The Link development plan for a number of years. OHCAT, Sutton LA and the Cirrus Trust who own the new site have worked together so positively to make this dream a reality. It has been an example of partnership working at its best. For our families affected by this often-misunderstood condition it has created a hope that their children will be given an opportunity for a meaningful education with the possibility of strong long-term
outcomes into adulthood. I feel sure that Francois Tomlin and my other predecessors over the years would approve of this next stage of growth for the school. It feels as if we have come full circle, with the school again opening its doors to a group of children that do not easily fit into an established education system.

We are looking forward to this next stage of our journey and I hope as parents you will join us in celebrating the significance of this development. We have so many things to look
forward to for all our young people as the Link goes from strength to strength. Here’s to the next 60 years!

Sandy Turner – Executive Principal