MP Maria Miller visited the new Austen Academy for an update on building progress. The new school is for children aged 5-16 years who have social and communication difficulties or autistic spectrum disorder.
At the site visit Maria said, “Despite the pandemic this school building works is on budget and ahead of schedule. It’s great to see the progress since my last visit and to see how the design of the building specifically caters for children with special educational needs.
“This new facility will be of huge benefit to children with special educational needs, but also an asset for the local community. I hope that the Academy sponsors Catch 22 will look for ways to make these new facilities available for community use. The Austen Academy is another example of how the Government is investing in Basingstoke’s local infrastructure, and I look forward to seeing the finished school open in the Spring of 2021.’
Hampshire County Councillor Stephen Reid said: ‘I was so impressed by the knowledge and experience that Hampshire’s team has put into the design of this new school. We were shown, for example, classroom doors placed centrally in walls because some children like to sit in the corners of the room. Wall colours were neutral but classroom floors had different colours to enable the pupils to orientate themselves. Outside, there were ‘layers’ of playing areas, so that children who feel nervous may stay close to the main building whilst others let off steam further away.
‘Hampshire’s knowledge and experience has been built up over many years. As a result, the Austen Academy is going to be one of the best schools of its kind.’
The £10.1m school development is funded by the Department for Education’s fund for special educational needs and disabilities. Hampshire County Council has been commissioned to oversee the design and delivery of the school, which is currently being delivered on budget and ahead of time. The site will be leased to Catch 22 Multi Academy Trust, who also operate Coppice Spring and Ashwood Academies in Basingstoke.
The facility will reduce the need to place pupils in non-county establishments. The school’s design incorporates specialist solutions to cater for children’s special educational needs and disabilities, as well as the highest environmental features to reduce energy consumption and mitigate the impact of climate change.
The Austen Academy is named after novelist Jane Austen, who was born in the Basingstoke and Deane borough, and it is due to open in Spring 2021.