New SEND school to be built near Oxford

A new £12m school is to be built for children with special education needs (SEND) on the outskirts of Oxford.

Oxfordshire County Council has appointed Morgan Sindall Construction as the main contractor to the project through the Department for Education construction framework.

When completed, the school will provide a new home for the Orion Academy, which is one of six SEND schools in Oxfordshire operated by The Gallery Trust; a special multi-academy trust based in Oxford.

The state-of-the-art development will be built on the site of the former Northfield School on Knights Road.

Northfield School became an academy on 01 February 2020; and was re-named Orion Academy as part of the conversion process. The school had been found to be inadequate by Ofsted in November 2018.

Plans for the larger, specially designed facility will allow the Orion Academy to more than double its intake of pupils, which currently range from ages 10-16, with an accompanying increase in staffing numbers.

The project will be divided into two phases.

The first, which started recently, involves the construction of the main single-storey 2,700 square metre building. It will comprise 14 general classrooms: 12 for pupils aged 10-16 and two for students aged 16-18.

In addition to specialist rooms for science, art, music and design, there will also be a dedicated space for life skills; where pupils can practice cooking and other domestic tasks to prepare them for independent living beyond school.

A space in the middle of the school called The Bridge will act as a therapeutic base and social area. It will be configured to accommodate group collaboration, and individual work. There will also be a large dining area and separate games hall, with an attached gym.

This phase of the project is scheduled to complete in time for the new school term in 2021.

‘Oxfordshire County Council is so pleased to see the appointment of the main contractor to deliver a new and enlarged 108-place school for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the Blackbird Leys area of Oxford,’ said cabinet member for education and cultural services, Cllr Lorraine Lindsay-Gale.

‘We are really excited to see the plans for the new building with construction due to start shortly and completion scheduled for September 2021. This long-awaited scheme will help produce huge educational benefits for children and young people.

‘These are encouraging times for special educational needs and disabilities provision in the county, with plans well advanced for the construction of a new special school at Bloxham Grove (near Banbury); and a new special school in Didcot.

‘This is another exciting project, delivering on our commitment to provide first class education for the county’s children and young people.’


Photo Credit – Borevina (Pixabay)


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