Brandon Leigh, Seashell CEO, receives the commemorate key from Moulding Foundation trustees, Jodie Moulding (centre) and Angela Richards (left)

Seashell Trust, a charity providing education and residential care for children and young adults with profound and multiple learning difficulties, officially opened the new £23 million Moulding Foundation Building yesterday in front of over 130 patrons and supporters at its campus in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Sir Warren Smith, Seashell President and Brandon Leigh, Seashell CEO, unveiled the new facility for Royal School Manchester, 200 years on from the charity’s creation in Manchester by local merchants Robert Phillips and William Bateman in 1823.

Sir Warren Smith, Seashell President and former Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, welcomes guests

A successful fundraising appeal for the new building saw the charity raise over £11.5 million from private donors, grant-making trusts and local companies.  The remainder was raised from the sale of a portion of the charity’s farmland.

Jodie Moulding said: “The Moulding Foundation’s belief is that everyone should have access to the resources and environment that will enable them to work hard and succeed in education. We want to help support the most vulnerable in society and enable people and communities to achieve their full potential.

“We have supported Seashell for a number of years as we believe it is truly making a huge difference to the lives of many families across the UK.

“Royal School Manchester is a world-class facility for children with complex needs and we are proud to have The Moulding Foundation name associated with it. It’s right here in Greater Manchester, showing the world how it’s done.”

Emma Houldcroft, Headteacher of Royal School Manchester, said, “The new building will enable us to offer an enhanced curriculum which will greatly extend the opportunities we provide for these extremely vulnerable children and young people.”

The Moulding Foundation was joined on the evening by key patrons of the charity from across Greater Manchester’s business and philanthropic community, including the Mason family, the Zochonis Charitable Trust, the Mulchand Foundation and Michael Josephson MBE. Many of the supporters, both individuals and businesses, have had the honour of a classroom or facility named after them within the new building.

Guests were shown the new state of the art facility and also heard about the charity’s next phase. It is set to embark on a fundraising campaign to create a new building for Royal College Manchester on the campus that will provide specialist education to students aged 19 to 25 as well as new training facilities for staff and additional community sports facilities. The existing aging building, despite numerous adaptations over the years, now presents many challenges for the current student population.

Gethin Jones, TV Presenter and Mollie Murphy, Seashell Student Ambassador

Brandon Leigh, Chief Executive of Seashell, said, “We have already been told that the Moulding Foundation Building will set the gold standard for special schools in the UK.  Outside school hours we plan to use the building to host national conferences and training events.

“We are now committed to delivering the next phase and replicating the quality of Royal School Manchester with Royal College Manchester on this campus in the very near future.”

Rebecca Adlington OBE, Olympic Gold Medallist Swimmer at the Bertie Broome Swimming Pool in the new school building

About the Moulding Foundation Building

The Moulding Foundation Building is the new home for Royal School Manchester, together with a wing that will house facilities to be shared with its specialist college, Royal College Manchester.  These include an assembly hall for 200 people with retractable seating, a dining hall with both group and individual dining spaces, an assessment suite with a high-tech audiology suite and a swimming centre comprising a learner pool with a rise-and-fall floor and an interactive hydrotherapy pool. 

Designed by Newcastle-based architects, FaulknerBrowns, the building utilises a series of light-gatherers on the roof to provide indirect sunlight for the classrooms.  Every part of the building has been acoustically designed in such a way to ensure little or no reverberation.  Where it be individual classrooms or the large assembly and dining halls the needs of students with a hearing impairment or autistic spectrum disorders has been considered. 

34 hoists in classrooms and shared spaces will ensure every student can access every space.  8 different sensory rooms, light stimulation rooms and low arousal rooms will be available to the teachers and learning support assistants to meet the needs of the students.

In January 2023 Royal School Manchester was judged to be Outstanding by Ofsted (the office for standards in education) for the third consecutive occasion. The inspectors described the school as ‘an exciting and inspiring place to learn’ and the quality of its leadership as ‘outstanding…supported by a highly effective, knowledgeable and experienced governing body’

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