Two new special schools to be opened near Thornbury

TWO new schools for children with learning difficulties are due to open in South Gloucestershire in the next 18 months.

Building work has started on a new purpose-built school at Alveston. 

And plans have been submitted to convert a former school at Rudgeway on the A38 into a special needs school.

The new Two Bridges Academy at Alveston is being built in the grounds of Marlwood School, in a collaboration between providers Enable Trust, South Gloucestershire Council, and Castle School Education Trust, with funding from the Department for Education.

It will have 112 places for pupils from nursery to sixth form, from across South Gloucestershire.

It will be run by Thornbury based Enable Trust, which already runs New Siblands School in Thornbury and Culverhill School in Yate.

Enable Trust project officer Tracy Norris said the purpose-built new school will be for pupils with similar needs to those at New Siblands – young people with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties, and pupils with severe learning difficulties and autism.

She said: “The building and grounds give the opportunity to allow disability groups access to specialist provision including physiotherapy, indoor and outdoor sports facilities with a hydrotherapy pool, and purpose-built changing facilities.” 

It should be open in September 2024. 

The school is being built in Vattingstone Lane, next to Marlwood School, and will take pupils from across the whole district.

Enable Trust chief executive Andrew Buckton said Two Bridges was “a new and much needed special school to fully meet children’s complex needs, an outward facing supportive centre of expertise to strengthen special educational needs and disability provision in this part of the South West”.

Trust chair Dave Tubb said the board was very encouraged to see this exciting project commence and to be involved in providing excellent and amazing facilities for our pupils’ education.”

Meanwhile a planning application has been submitted by Witherslack Group, another provider of special educational needs schools, to convert Silverhill, a large old house on the A38 at Rudgeway, into a school.

The group’s application to South Gloucestershire planners is for a school for up to 50 pupils aged nine to 19.

It involves changing use from offices to a school, and building two detached outbuildings as classrooms, and creation of an outdoor multi-use games area.

The company, which says it is a “leading provider of specialist education for children and young people” has also advertised on its website for a new head teacher for the school. 

The website says the school is due to open in the Autumn of 2023.

How the new school is expected to look

It says: “This new school will be a purpose built, brand new, state of the art school, catering primarily for children with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs but also providing for children with autism who have moderate learning needs. 

“The school will provide education for up to 50 children aged 8 to 16.”

At the time of going to press two objections had been sent to the council’s planning portal. One was concerned for the impact on wildlife, and another said it would create extra traffic.

The building was used as a school from 1949 until 1992, when the former Silverhill School moved to Swan Lane in Winterbourne. The school closed in 2020.

More recently the building has been used as offices.

The plans can be seen on the planning section of South Gloucestershire Council’s website, by searching for reference number P23/00605/F.