Stepping Stones is a COINS Foundation supported school for children with varying levels of disability. Established in 2004 with just two children, the school has thrived to become a first class independent, today offering the very best education and treatment to over 40 children. With increasing demand for places and limited space, the school applied for a bigger site, and in February this year was granted permission to convert Undershaw, the beautiful former home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, into an incredible new site for Stepping Stones.
Built in 1877 and set in a stunning 3 acres the house is situated just down the road from the existing school, this new site offers incredible potential for more outdoor learning, better student accommodation and an exciting new venture into care for an even wider age range of students. Construction work has been getting underway and the vision is starting to become a reality, with an estimated completion date of June 2016.
The former home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – author of Sherlock Holmes, Undershaw has an important standing in the local community. The future of this property has been under much debate over the years, with much national and international support to ensure its preservation. After careful planning and consultation with the public to discuss the properties future, the house was purchased by David Forbes-Nixon in 2014, a parent of a Stepping Stones student and founder of the DFN Charitable Foundation.
A huge advocate of the school, David has worked tirelessly to ensure the project goes ahead. With the support of COINS Foundation, the goal of transforming Undershaw and breathing life back into the building has become a reality, by turning it into a world class school for special education, whilst preserving the history and majesty of this important site.
Undershaw offers enormous potential to existing and future students of Stepping Stones, with brand new specialist classrooms, science lab, music and drama, arts and crafts, physiotherapy facilities, gym and hydrotherapy pool, with room for up to 64 students. Traditionally students left Stepping Stones at 18, the new site will provide the facilities for students to stay longer, with a particular focus on education for students aged between 16-25. This will provide exciting opportunities for apprenticeships, vocational and non-vocational training to working with local businesses, whilst providing the foundations for students to live independently, take up employment and play an active social role that some of their peers may take for granted. This is a fundamental step in providing ongoing care and support for students ensuring they reach their full potential both in their education and beyond.