Academy taking over Robert Beard Youth Centre will aim to help ‘vulnerable’ young people

Robert Beard Centre, High Street, Hornchurch.

Robert Beard Centre, High Street, Hornchurch. - Credit: Archant

An academy is set to take over a youth centre with the aim of helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people in the borough.

The Olive AP Academy Havering, based at the Birnam Wood Pupil Referral Unit, Inskip Drive, Hornchurch, is due to take over the Robert Beard Youth Centre in High Street, Hornchurch.

The academy will be the first to open in London supporting those with complex needs who have left mainstream education.

The Olive Alternative Provision Academy has opened other sites in Thurrock and Suffolk.

Cllr Robert Benham, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to turn around the lives of some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. We know that good educational outcomes are key to strong career prospects.

“When completed, the academy will be a state-of-the-art facility aimed at giving these young people the best possible chance in life.”

The Olive AP Academy Havering will take up to 60 secondary school aged pupils and if granted planning permission, new facilities including an annex to welcome more pupils and new catering facilities will be built on the site over the next 18 months.

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A focus on looking at ways of helping pupils get back on track will be a key aim, according to the academy.

The Recorder revealed last week that the academy taking over the youth centre which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, had been granted a 125-year lease, leaving questions as to where community groups would meet.

Havering Council has insisted that the centre will still be available to use in the evenings, at weekends and during school holidays.

Those groups and clubs that use the centre during the day will be able to remain there for the immediate future although they will need to find alternative accommodation.

Locations have been found for a couple of the groups but arrangements have not yet been finalised.