Children from Selworthy School have been helping lay the first bricks of their new Hazelbrook Campus.
The youngsters joined representatives from Somerset County Council to kick-off construction of the £9m building which will provide an extra 80-100 places for pupils with a range of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities(SEND), including autism.
It’s purpose-built, state-of-the-art facilities will meet the local demand for places and make sure children can access education much closer to home. This cuts down on travel times, disruption and costs of school placements elsewhere in – and even outside – the county.
Being closer to home, the Council-funded new build will also help families to engage more closely with the school and develop a sense of community.
Headteacher, Mark Ruffett, said: “This is going to make a massive difference to the children who attend the school and the staff who work in it. It’s a top-notch facility, designed for us.
“We threw out a lot ideas, people put them down on paper, now they’re being turned into a school. That’s really exciting and I’d like to thank everyone who’s contributed to getting this project off the ground.”
Councillor Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Somerset County Council, joined in the brick-laying and said the school shows the Council’s continued commitment to providing school places where they are needed.
“It was great to join pupils and staff as the first foundations of the new school building were laid,” she said. “I look forward to the completion of a splendid new provision that will improve the futures of many Somerset children who have special educational needs or disabilities.
“We are committed to improving and enhancing the lives of all children in Somerset, whatever their abilities and whatever their challenges, and that includes a programme of school building and enhancement that will provide places where they’re needed.”
Faye Purbrick, Cabinet Member for Education and Council Transformation, was delighted to be part of the ceremony. “Our school building and improvement programme is all about ensuring our children have schools that meet their needs and the needs of our communities for generations to come,” she said.
Willmott Dixon has been contracted to build the school which is due to open operational by September 2019. Managing Director, Neal Stephens, said: “We are delighted to be working with Somerset County Council to deliver this school, a relationship we place great value in.
“I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact new learning environments have on the pupils and communities in which they are located, and I know that this school will be no different.”