A NEW school in Salisbury for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) hopes to open in autumn 2023.

SAIL Academy will provide 150 places for children and young people with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) and for those with social and emotional and mental health needs (SEMH).

The preferred site for the school is the former South Wiltshire University Technical College (UTC) on Wilton Road.

The school will be managed by Reach South Academy Trust and delivered by the Department of Education (DfE).

Jon Hamp, Reach South director for individual needs, said: “I am extremely proud of the work that we are doing to get this new school off the ground. Our hope is that this new school will create a sense of positivity and possibility – something that we all need right now.

“This will be a great project for Salisbury - and it will be a great school of which we can all be proud. We are working closely together with our colleagues in Wiltshire Council and the Department for Education to bring our exciting vision to reality, and look forward to being able to open our doors in September 2023.”

An autumn 2022 opening was initially considered but a statement issued by Wiltshire Council says that due to "Covid-19 issues and other prevalent programme risks such as labour and material resource issues, a more realistic forecast opening date is autumn 2023".

Dean Ashton, the chief executive of Reach South Academy Trust, added: "Everyone at Reach South is committed to meeting children's needs. We are proud to be able to open SAIL in Salisbury and look forward to a strong working partnership in the county."

Wiltshire Council says it is working closely with both Reach South and the Department for Education to ensure that SAIL Academy is able to be open to students from autumn 2023 and work is also ongoing with families to ensure pupils can access places in current schools for next school year.

A DfE spokesperson said: “The Department always endeavour to minimise the amount of time that any project spends in pre-opening. This includes working with trusts to carefully balance the priority of opening on the preferred date against all the elements that must be in place to ensure a free school is successful when it opens.

"We will work with partners over forthcoming months to finalise indicative timescales for the school opening date and continue to prioritise the needs of the children to deliver them the educational opportunities and support they deserve”.

Cllr Jane Davies, the Cabinet Member for SEND at Wiltshire Council, added: “We have a wider long term plan to ensure we have sufficient places across Wiltshire for children and young people with SEND. We are working closely with our partners on this important work for the south to ensure we can have the school opened and ready for learners with SEND.”


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