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(UK) Salisbury: New 150 place autism school to open; Cllr Davies: 'delighted'

Sept 16, 2022, Wiltshire Live: Brand new Salisbury school set to take over empty former college site

S. England

A brand new school is set to open in Salisbury, as a provisional opening date is released and admissions open. The new school is set to take over the neglected former South Wiltshire University Technical College site which has sat empty for years. Reach South Academy Trust, the family of schools behind the Salisbury Academy for Inspirational Learning (SAIL) have announced an important step towards the opening of the new school. The Department for Education has confirmed a provisional opening date of September 2023. This announcement means that consultations for Children and Young People for places at the new school can now get under way.

Initially, the new school will open on a temporary basis for the first few months in part of Pembroke Park Primary School in Salisbury and the current site of Springfields in the South at Sarum Academy. The school will then move to its permanent site later in the autumn, when SAIL will then move to the former South Wiltshire University Technical College in the city, which has sat empty since closing in 2020. The decision is said to represent an important milestone in the journey towards successfully opening the new school.

The SEND free school project will create 150 new places for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). The school will accommodate pupils with a diagnosis or primary need of autism (ASD) or social, emotional or mental health needs (SEMH). This will be a major contribution in ensuring that young people in south Wiltshire receive the specialised support they need.

The SAIL school will be part of the Reach South Academy Trust, which is working in partnership with the Department for Education and Wiltshire Council to ensure the new school is ready to open by September 2023.

At present, the building work needed for the school to open in its permanent site is forecast to be completed in the autumn of 2023. The refurbishment of the permanent site encountered some unexpected delays following surveys of the site. These revealed that further additional refurbishment works would be required, which ultimately delayed the planned opening by a few months.

To make sure that enough spaces are available in the interim, the SAIL project team worked together to provide an alternative site at Pembroke Park. SAIL will deliver the new school from Pembroke Park and Sarum until the permanent site is ready to open.

Dean Ashton, Chief Executive at Reach South Academy Trust, said: “We are delighted that the provisional opening date has been agreed. This is a major step for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in Wiltshire. We are looking forward to consulting with parents and young people in the area about the school that will meet their needs. We will, with our partners, establish a governing body for the school and start the process of appointing a headteacher and team and ensure that everyone is fully prepared for the new school to open in September 2023"

Cllr Jane Davies, Cabinet Member for SEND said: “This SEND free school project is an exciting development to ensure our young people with SEND in the south of Wiltshire have first class facilities and the right learning environment to do well and enjoy school. I am delighted we have the green light from the DfE to now go ahead and start preparing for next September and creating these additional places. SAIL will open to pupils initially on the Pembroke Park site and then move to the permanent home. We will work alongside DfE and Reach South to ensure a smooth transition to the new site once it’s ready.”

At present, the building work needed for the school to open in its permanent site is forecast to be completed in the autumn of 2023. (Image: Handout)


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