Children who have been too poorly to attend school have the chance to return to the classroom thanks to a £250,000 refurbishment of a city centre building.

The Castle Education Centre, in Copeland Street, will be used by children of all ages who have anxiety or mental health issues which prevent them from attending school.

The setting, which will form part of The Kingsmead School, is designed to be a calm and nurturing environment where home tutored pupils can slowly begin their return to mainstream education.

The centre, which was officially opened by Councillor Sarah Russell, will allow students’ timetables to be increased and give them access to a wider curriculum with specialist teachers.

Executive head teacher Sue Bradley said:

“Many of the students who will attend Castle have not accessed education for some time, or they may have been home tutored, which means they miss out on vital parts of the curriculum.

“At Castle they will be taught by specialist maths, English and science teachers, rather than just one home tutor and we are confident it will offer a much better stepping stone between not attending any education setting and the ultimate aim of reintegration into their mainstream placement.”

Pupils attending Castle Education Centre will have been referred to the provision by schools, with a medical practitioner’s backing.

As part of the £250,000 refurbishment the school took the opportunity to build its own hair and beauty salon, which has replaced a city centre salon previously rented by the school.

This will be used by Kingsmead School pupils and will also be offered as a vocational course to other secondary schools in the city.

Mrs Bradley added:

“The investment in this building has not been huge but it will make a significant difference to what Kingsmead can offer.

“We have a specific cohort of learners who will benefit from this centre and it allows us to provide an education for children and young people whose health prevents them from attending school.

“We have also been keen to bring our vocational provision in house for some time and now we can have full control of this offering both for our own pupils and those in other schools across Derby.”

Councillor Sarah Russell, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills added:

“I am delighted that the refurbishment works are now complete. This is an exciting scheme to improve the learning opportunities for students by widening the options available to them. The new facility will certainly help enable us to continue to improve teaching and learning for Derby children and young people.”