New build for special school's investment moves major step forward

New build for special school's investment moves major step forward

Contractors Willmott Dixon will oversee the work to build the school and provide up to 400 places for SEND pupils aged from early years to post-16 on the Rowdeford site by September 2023.

Conservative led Wiltshire Council wants to ensure that all children and young people with SEND have access to a first class education for SEND pupils. The project is part of a wider plan to bring Larkrise, St Nicholas and Rowdeford schools together. They will amalgamate as one maintained school over three sites from 1 September this year.

The involvement of children from all three sites and the wider school community was included in the contract as their views are important to how the project will go forward.

The new facilities will operate as a "school within a school." There will be a community of small teaching clusters that will provide a range of specialist teaching spaces, therapeutic support, and quiet dining.

Each cluster will be designed to offer plenty of space to move around while maximising natural daylighting and ventilation to create an airy feel. The clusters will be designed as a standalone school provision for early years, primary, secondary and post-16. In addition there will be a hydrotherapy pool and outdoor learning provision. The new facilities both internally and externally will be fully accessible for all pupils at the school.

Main construction works are expected to start in Summer 2021 and be complete for Sept 2023. In the next two weeks Wiltshire Council hopes to enter into formal contract with Willmott Dixon and they will be working with them particularly during the construction phase to maximise employment and training opportunities within Wiltshire as well as to ensure the use as much as possible of local supply chains to support the local economy.

Conservative Cllr Pauline Church, Cabinet member for Children, Education and Skills said: "This is a major step forward in ensuring we have sufficient places for all our SEND children in the north of Wiltshire. The involvement of children from all three sites and the wider school community was included in the contract as their views are important to us.

"The work will create a number of new classrooms, areas and facilities which will really complement learning. We are looking forward to continuing to work closely with the school community across all three sites and involving the children in the design as we move forward."

Richard Poulter, Managing Director at Willmott Dixon said " Willmott Dixon are delighted to be involved in this exciting new project. We are proud to be commencing work on a scheme that will provide a positive and engaging space in which the next generation can learn and develop."

Despite the challenges of COVID-19 the work is scheduled for completion by autumn 2023.

Last week the Office for the School Adjudicator (OSA) examined the proposals to amalgamate the three schools and establish the new, maintained special school with a single leadership team to work across all three sites of St Nicholas, Rowdeford and Larkrise schools. It gave the green light for the amalgamation to go ahead - a key milestone in taking forward exciting work to develop the provision.

by Charlie Monro,