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Impact25th January 2024

A new therapeutic learning centre for Portsmouth

The Jonathan Centre at Ark Charter is helping to provide children on the SEN register with access to much-needed support

We felt really comforted by the atmosphere of the Jonathan Centre. ​I believe it is going to be really effective. It will make students feel included without the pressure of being in a classroom full of pupils.”

Maheep Principal Student, Ark Charter

A therapeutic learning centre at Ark Charter offers students who are identified with social, emotional, and mental health needs, a provision that supports them to overcome barriers and provide lifelong coping strategies. ​

The Johnathan Centre opened at the Portsmouth secondary school in January 2024. The brand-new facilities include a sensory room, an intervention room, a kitchen and dining area, a community space, and a small classroom, which aims to replicate what students would experience in the rest of the school.

Twenty five percent of Ark Charter’s students are on the SEN register with 88 percent of these having a recognised need around communication,  emotional regulation and mental health.

“We recognised that we had to make a commitment in supporting these students to be able to access the world around them and to be able to access life at school and develop resilience,” says Juliet Reed-Birks, Vice Principal.

The centre is also helping children return to the classroom. “We have some students who are persistent absentees. We’ve been able to make some real improvements in them wanting to attend through the Jonathan Centre. There’s a mock classroom that’s twenty steps from the external gate where students can step in and start to feel what it’s like to be in a classroom again.” 

The centre facilitates a range of therapeutic intervention including: creative therapy, Place2Be, ELSA, MABS, MHST, Portsmouth in the Community, and Greenhouse Sports mentoring.​

We recognise that young people are struggling in the school community but we know that through the Jonathan Centre we can make it better. As a student academy leadership team, we firmly believe that this building is an amazing investment into the futures of children at Charter. ​

As a person who suffers from anxiety myself, I believe that the Jonathan Centre is critical for supporting students in our school and for making the academy a more comfortable and safe place.”​

Dan | Vice Principal Student