Gesher raises £1.2 million for its new school in 24 hours

Special needs school needs to fund extensive renovation of Pinner site before next academic year


Special needs primary school Gesher has almost reached its £1.2 million target from its “Big Build” fundraising campaign with 12 of the 36 hours to go.

The money will be used to transform its new site into a state of the art school, extending its provision for primary age and opening a secondary section.

Gesher currently educates 40 children with a range of needs including autism, ADHD, dyslexia and Down’s syndrome at its site in Willesden.

In September, it moves to the former Moriah Primary site in Pinner. The new building requires extensive renovation over the summer to be ready for the start of the autumn term.

Refurbishment plans include occupational therapy rooms, a sensory room, and the installation of specialist educational equipment. Heating and air conditioning systems also need to be replaced. 

Gesher was founded in 2017 by Ali Durban and Sarah Sultman, both mothers of children with special needs, to plug a gap in the education system that they believe failed their children.

 “There is a severe shortage of specialist provision across the UK,” Ms Sultman said. “Bursting at the seams” at Willesden, Gesher had to relocate. “But there is a lot of work to do at the new school before we can move in.”

The Pinner premises were “a great opportunity”, Ms Durban added. “But it is a 30-year-old school, built for primary age children in the 1990s, who are neuro-typical. We have to adapt, modernise and upscale this building so that it is appropriate for secondary age pupils and children with special educational needs.”

Rated outstanding by Ofsted, Gesher is in the top 3 per cent of special needs schools in the UK.

It has depended entirely on private donations to fund the expansion and secured £600,000 of match-funding to boost donations received during the campaign.

The “Big Build” runs until 10pm today.



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