Helping to give every child the best start in life

September 01 2021
Helping to give every child the best start in life

Thornbury & Yate MP Luke Hall writes for the Voice

EVERY child in south Gloucestershire deserves the best possible start in life, so investing in special educational needs and disabilities educational provision in South Gloucestershire must be an absolute priority.

As part of our positive plan for schools, I have been working with the council to deliver the new 112-place Two Bridges Academy, which will educate and support children with severe learning difficulties and autistic spectrum disorders. 

Being built at the current Marlwood site, the brand new educational facility will provide tailored support and specialist equipment to local children ages 2-19 years old.

It will be an “all-through” school, which will mean it will provide places from nursery to sixth form, and it will have approximately 90 specialist staff.

The new school is currently planned to open in September 2023. 

Plans for the new school include a hydrotherapy pool, specialist disability sports equipment for rebound therapy, changing facilities specially designed for young people with additional needs, soft play space for supporting sensory diet needs, outdoor wheelchair accessible play equipment and purpose-built life-skills facilities. 

Some of the school’s specialist facilities will also be made available for our local community to use and hire outside of school hours. 

The Two Bridges Academy will be funded and delivered by the Department for Education, following our successful bid, as part of the Free Schools Programme.

Enable Trust, a local specialist education academy trust which runs New Siblands in Thornbury and Culverhill in Yate, will open and run the school. 

The new facility in our area is just part of the Government’s wider plans to improve SEND provision across the whole country. High needs funding was increased by £780 million in 2020-21, to ensure every pupil can access the education that is right for them, and a major cross-governmental review of SEND provision has also been launched. since 2012, 43 new special free schools have already opened, with a further 48 approved to open in the future.

Improving special educational needs provision is just one key part of our positive plan for schools and family life. More widely, plans are in place to redevelop the existing Castle and Marlwood Schools, to construct two new primary schools in Yate, building a new secondary school at Lyde Green offering 900 places to local children and delivering the £78 million of repairs and upgrades for South Gloucestershire schools, including rural schools like Rangeworthy Primary, Iron Acton Primary and Old Sodbury Primary.

Delivering this new special educational needs and disabilities school is a key part of our positive plan for South Gloucestershire. I am exceptionally grateful to everyone who has supported this vital project, and as ever, if you have any views about this new school, please do get in touch at luke.hall.mp@parliament.uk.