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(UK) Dorset: Special school for 60 opens; plans to expand to 280 students

Nov 17, 2021, Dorset Echo: Dorset Council names SEND school Coombe House

SW England

A NAME change is being planned for the former St Mary’s School site near Shaftesbury. The site, bought by Dorset Council earlier in the year for £10million [$13M], is currently being adapted for the first sixty pupils, expected to take up their places at the special school in the new year…. The larger site will be known as the Dorset Centre for Excellence…. Education director for the county Vik Verma broke the news in response to questions about progress being made on the site in preparation for Councillors were told that while the adaptation works were still anticipated to be within the £5million [$6.7M] conversion costs the project had been troubled by both a shortage of construction materials and, at times, construction workers…. The school, which may eventually have around 280 pupils, is to be run by a limited company, wholly owned by Dorset Council, with possible wider uses for the larger site in the future, although these will have to be compatible with a school for vulnerable learners. Ideas under consideration include ‘move on’ accommodation and training for older pupils preparing to leave education. Mr Verma told the meeting that even with total costs around £15million [$20M] the site remained good value for money and would offer the council further opportunities in the years to come. He said to build a new school from scratch would almost certainly have cost more and taken 3-5 years….


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