A brand-new hydrotherapy pool has opened at a special school in Taunton to provide major benefits for children and young people with complex disabilities. 

The £1.8m facility at the Hazelbrook campus at Selworthy School was funded by Somerset County Council and opened by the Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, Mrs Annie Maw.  

Selworthy School is a special school for young people aged 4-19 years with SEND (Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities). The Hazelbrook campus finished construction in 2019 and has around 100 secondary and sixth form pupils with a range of complex needs.   

As well as helping the school meet the therapeutic needs of young people with disabilities, the new pool will also be available for hire by swimming classes and community groups.  

The Lord-Lieutenant said “I am delighted to hear that a swimming pool will soon be in constant use by learners at Selworthy School.  I know myself how liberating being in the water is to those of us who have certain limitations.  Mine are physical and, as a wheelchair user, for me swimming brings tremendous pleasure and a sense of freedom.  When you add music to verse, you get song… when you add swimming to everyday life, you get happiness!  What could be better.” 

Hazelbrook school Head Teacher, Mr Mark Ruffett, said “This provision has the potential to be life-changing to elements of our community. Having a readily accessible, first-class facility will allow our learners to be provided with therapeutic support like never before. It will also provide us with the opportunity to develop water confidence and have fun.  

“The pool will be available to hire for local swim schools and is perfectly suited to parent & baby/toddler sessions and will also be available to the community to hire for hydrotherapy.  

“This project is one of a number of positive collaborations between The Oak Partnership Trust and Somerset County Council benefiting the educational outcomes for learners with additional needs in Taunton and surrounding area.” 

Councillor Tessa Munt, Somerset County Council’s Lead Executive Member for Children and Families, said “We want to invest in the very best facilities to bring out the very best in our children and young people. A pool like this is so important in the development of young people with particular needs and disabilities.  

Somerset County Council is proud to provide this pool as part of our School Build Programme to enable our learners to exercise without pain, build up their confidence, and have a lot of fun all at the same time. We are committed to improving SEND provision with a further investment of £10m in SEND programmes in addition to the £60m already earmarked to provide an extra 450 specialist places in Somerset.” 

About this article

July 8, 2022

Keir Mitton