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Construction begins on the first Special Educational Needs Free School on the Isle of Sheppey

The new School, which is yet to be officially named, will provide Year 7 to 11 pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from the Isle of Sheppey and surrounding area with specialist provision to enable them to reach their full potential within a warm, caring, stable and supportive environment.

Reds10 was appointed as main contractor as part of the Department for Education (DfE)’s ‘Off-site Schools’ Framework. Reds10 is providing a full turnkey solution, having designed the building from RIBA Stage 2 onwards and secured planning permission, prior to starting construction in June 2023. The building will be constructed using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) with 87% of the work completed off-site in our Yorkshire factory, improving the programme and minimising disruption to the local community and neighbouring primary school.

The school has been designed to achieve Net Zero Carbon for regulated energy, through a thermally efficient building envelope, all electric services and on-site solar photovoltaic array. The proposed external materials are a natural palette and have been selected to both respond to the local context whilst creating a distinct identity for the school that is opening and welcoming. Internally, the layouts have been developed following extensive engagement with The Sabden Multi-Academy Trust, which will run the school, and HLM Architects, drawing on the combined team’s wide-ranging experience of delivering outstanding SEMH schools. Most notably, the school will benefit from:

  • two specialist teaching zones where Art, Construction, ICT, Food Technology and Science are taught,
  • a forest school base room with direct access to an external forest school,
  • distinct zones for each year group to enable pupils to feel safe and secure in their own defined general teaching area,
  • a well-equipped therapy cluster including a sensory room and spaces for external therapists and practitioners to support pupils,
  • double height sports hall and dining facility,
  • suitable external spaces to deliver enrichment and community activities including horticulture and multi-sports.

Earlier in June 2023, a ground-breaking event was held at the site of the new school, involving representatives of The Sabden Multi-Academy Trust, Reds10, the DfE, Kent City Council (KCC) and leaders from the neighbouring Halfway Houses Primary School and The Island Learning Trust.

Sabden Chief Executive Officer Jo Foulkes and Anna Morse, Head of Operations and Development, put on the necessary protective equipment to symbolically commemorate the start of work on site.

“Many of our current pupils have experienced difficulties in their previous educational placements. We strive to create a warm, caring, stable and supportive environment in which all staff and pupils feel safe, and which allows all pupils to reach their full potential.”

Sabden Chief Executive Officer Jo Foulkes

“There is currently no SEMH provision on the Isle of Sheppey, with pupils having to travel over the bridge into mainland Kent. Reds10 are proud to be working closely with DfE, KCC and Sabden Multi-Academy Trust to deliver these much-needed pupil places on the Isle of Sheppey.”

Joe Shepherd, Director & Education Sector Lead for Reds10

The school is due to complete in July 2024 and will open to its first cohort of up to 40 pupils in September 2024. The Sabden multi-academy Trust is running a public consultation until the 30th of July 2023, further details can be found on the new school website.

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