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Bridges Care and Education (BCE), a provider of specialist education and care, has opened two new schools after backing from responsible investment manager Downing LLP.
BCE, which trades under the name Spaghetti Bridge, currently operates seven schools in the UK and has partnered with Downing since BCE’s inception in 2020. The two new independent day and specialist education schools in Plymouth and Yelverton have a combined capacity for up to 160 children.
In October 2022, Downing invested £12.5m to fund the acquisition of the sites, as well as the refurbishment of the sites into schools for children with a range of learning needs, including social, emotional and mental health difficulties, autistic spectrum conditions including Asperger’s syndrome and associated challenging needs.
All students attending the schools will have an Educational Health Care Plan and will be provided additional support applicable to the needs of the individual student.
Chapel Bridge School, which is in Plymouth city centre and on a site that once formed part of the Royal Naval Hospital, has a capacity for up to 100 students while Heather Bridge School has a capacity for up to 60 students.
BCE is working closely with local placing officers and commissioners.
Downing has now opened seven operational sites with BCE with an eighth due to be completed soon, as it continues to build a market-leading specialist education business in the UK. BCE also operates schools in Paignton, Taunton, Yeovil and Cricklade.
Torsten Mack, Investment Director, Downing LLP, said: “The completion of the new schools in Plymouth and Yelverton marks the latest stage in the growth of BCE and strengthens its position as one of the leading providers of specialist education in southern England. It also signals a further development in our relationship together. The management teams' focus on high-quality outcomes and their track record of opening and filling schools underlines the success of their approach.
“As a responsible investor, Downing is proud to be supporting BCE and making a difference in helping them to meet the growing need for SEND schools.”
Dan Alipaz, CEO, Bridges Care and Education, said: “Opening two new SEND schools in the Plymouth and Devon area is a significant milestone for our organisation and a crucial development for the education sector in this region. These schools will not only provide much-needed specialised education and support to children with diverse needs but also contribute to the overall growth and well-being of the Plymouth community.
For BCE, it demonstrates our unwavering commitment to inclusivity and quality education. We are proud to play a pivotal role in not only expanding educational opportunities for children with special needs, but also to provide new and innovative educational models that give children the opportunity to develop the necessary skills for a rapidly changing 21st century.”
Downing’s Development Capital team partners with exceptional management teams to help realise their growth ambitions and maximise the potential of their business by providing flexible funding solutions, strategic support, and access to its networks.
Typically, it looks for initial investments of between £5 million and £50 million and focuses on sectors including healthcare, education, leisure and hospitality, housing, and other specialist sectors.
Find out more about the Downing Development Capital team.