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New special school two years away

By David Parker

A special school in urgent need of new buildings could open in 2020, if funding is secured.

A replacement Orchard School could be ready on one site in time for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

The school, which caters for more than 100 children with special needs, is currently split between Appletongate, Newark, and London Road, Balderton.

Its buildings have been described as the worst of any school in Nottinghamshire.

Last year land on London Road was chosen as the site for a purpose-built replacement, including state-of-the-art facilities such as a hydrotherapy pool.

The MP for Newark, Mr Robert Jenrick, hopes to secure £10m from the Govern-ment’s Special Schools Building Fund.

He said he was working with Nottingham-shire County Council to get the new school opened by September, 2020.

Mr Jenrick last week visited the Foun-taindale Special School, Mansfield, on a fact-finding mission with the Orchard head’s, Margot Tyers.

He said there was a lot to be learnt from Fountaindale, which was built in 2015.

“It was an impressive building with all the equipment that we would love to see at least some of in the new school,” Mr Jenrick said.

“There is a hydrotherapy pool, spacious accommodation, wide corridors, facilities for science and cooking, and things that make a real difference.

“It has provided food for thought about what we want the new Orchard School to look like and include.”

'A fair timetable we can work towards'

Mr Jenrick said during the visit they spoke to Mr Colin Pettigrew, head of children’s services at the county council.

Mr Jenrick said: “He was able to say that good progress had been made for the options for the site and thought we should be able to see plans later in the year that we can share with parents, staff and pupils.

“We are working towards the new school building being open in September 2020.

“It seems a long way off and would be another two winters in the existing decrepit and outdated buildings, but it is a fair timetable we can work towards.

“It is important that the voice of the parents, teachers and governors is properly heard so the building created is exactly what they want and meets the needs of local people.

“There are plans being considered by the leadership at Nottinghamshire County Council in the coming weeks and they will open up greater involvement from the school.

“I want to ensure that Margot and the parents have an active say in what the school is like so it is not a one-size fits all type of project

“It will be a building that will be able to serve a larger number of pupils so it will be built with room for growth in mind.

“We can ensure that people who grow up in Newark and the eastern half of the county can come to Newark for their schooling.”

A spokesman for the county council declined to comment.


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