A successful school leader has been appointed as the new Headteacher of ACE Special School Tiverton (ATSS) prior to their opening in September 2019.
Hannah Smart has worked in Somerset for 10 years as a Deputy Principal, firstly of a large comprehensive school and most recently in a special school for students with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH) needs. She began her career as an English teacher in Bristol, progressing to Head of Year before Assistant Principal with oversight of pastoral care, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and student progress. She has also been the governor of three schools, enabling her to gain a deep understanding of all phases of education.
ATSS will open in September 2019, after its application was approved by the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Department for Education. The co-educational school will cater for pupils of moderate to high ability with SEND aged 11-16 and will have an initial cohort of 30 pupils.
ACE Schools Trust was formed in 2016 as a provider of alternative education. Originally based in Plymouth, it now operates around Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall from 16 different locations in order to provide education and support services for pupils who are not in mainstream education.
It currently runs two schools – Courtlands Special School and ACE Schools Plymouth, both of which are rated Good by Ofsted. ACE Schools Plymouth caters for pupils aged 4 to 18, whilst Courtlands caters for primary aged pupils with moderate learning difficulties, SEMH and other complex needs.
Hannah’s appointment comes as parents are learning that their children have been accepted into the first cohort of ATSS. SEND provision is desperately needed in Mid Devon, with the demand for places growing and projected growth in housing of 70-80,000 new homes in the next 15-20 years meaning the already stretched provision will soon be strained further. ATSS will go a long way towards ensuring that more SEND pupils will get the high-quality education and support that they need.
Hannah Smart, Headteacher of ACE Special School Tiverton, said: “I am incredibly excited to become part of the ACE family, and I am passionate about ensuring all students fulfil their potential in every way. At ATSS we will create a learning family where everyone enjoys making progress together. Being part of the town is central to our success and we look forward to working with the local community in establishing ATSS as a key part of the Tiverton community.”
Sarah Gillett, CEO of ACE Schools Multi Academy Trust, said: “Hannah is the ideal Headteacher for ACE Special School Tiverton, a fantastic teacher and leader with a real understanding of what children with SEND need to thrive in education. I am very much looking forward to working alongside her to provide the exceptional support and educational provision ACE is known for to even more pupils.”
Katie Beedell, parent at ATSS, said: "When we received our acceptance letter and found out that my son had been accepted into ACE Special School Tiverton, you would not believe the happiness our family felt. We've struggled for a long time to get provision where he feels happy and his needs are met.
"We've never felt so welcome - everything was child focused, and Sarah and her team just 'got it'. The school will make such a massive difference to our community and to the parents who have been waiting for support and understanding, as well as to my son. I haven't seen him this excited in a long time.
"Our family can really start to build on the positives that ACE will bring - we can't wait for September to come."