Developing well rounded individuals

By Lawrence Chapman, SENDAT

Multi-academy trust and charity, the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Academies Trust (SENDAT), provides special education and specialist provision in the eastern region.

Published in Norfolk Director Magazine, Summer 2021

Giving Back: SENDAT

Historically based in Suffolk, our family of schools will soon include a new special school in Fakenham.

As part of Norfolk County Council’s £120 million programme to transform special education and address the ever-increasing demands for places, Duke of Lancaster is currently being built by R G Carter on the site of the former Fakenham Sixth Form College.  

The new school is expected to start accepting students initially up to Year 9 from January 2022. Yet, at full capacity, it will provide a specialist learning environment for up to 100 children and young people, aged between 5 and 16, with autism and complex communication and interaction needs.

Our vision for Duke of Lancaster is to develop well-rounded individuals, who can confidently go forward into their adult lives prepared for the work environment and take their place as independent and successful members of society. We will work with each student, their parents/carers and other professionals, to understand and overcome their particular barriers to learning; so they can achieve their full potential within a secure and caring environment. We will enhance the range of experiences available to our students by offering them increasing opportunities for personal, social, intellectual and physical development.

Working alongside local organisations

Collaborating with the wider business community in Norfolk will enrich our curriculum offer and inspire students to successfully transition back into mainstream education, where appropriate, and access further education, training, and employment on leaving school.

Employer engagement will support the development of our students, enabling them to leave school fully prepared for their next steps in adult life. We are enthusiastic about exploring opportunities with local and national organisations and companies, which may include visits to the Duke of Lancaster to talk to students, workplace visits and work experience for students aged between 14 and 16.  Anybody in Norfolk interested in promoting volunteer work, employability workshops or other opportunities for our students can contact us by emailing

Rob Speck, the newly appointed Head of School Designate, articulates our vision for Duke of Lancaster: “Our vision is to create a calm, safe and happy environment where everyone treats each other with kindness and respect. Everyone who attends the school will receive a high quality holistic, ambitious and thoughtfully planned curriculum that places the individual and their voice at the centre of all choices; providing students with the social, emotional and academic skills and knowledge required to enable freedom of choice and independence in adult life”.

Duke of Lancaster is a new build which will be designed specifically to meet the needs of the students and staff and will have facilities that we will be keen to make available for community use. Key to creating a calm, safe and happy space for our students is the provision of specialist rooms and equipment.

Therefore, prior to the school’s opening, we are keen to collaborate with individuals and organisations who may be able to help us raise funds for additional specialist equipment and resources. These will provide students with supplementary support to facilitate their independence, develop their skills and knowledge – both socially and academically – so they can be successful and fulfil their potential.

The main photo shows Lawrence Chapman, Alex Mackay from R G Carter and Rob Speck on-site at Duke of Lancaster.  

Lawrence Chapman is CEO at SENDAT. For more information visit

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