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School and community leaders came together on Tuesday 2 July 2019 to mark the official start of building works for the new purpose-built special education needs facilities at Highfield Ely Academy with a groundbreaking ceremony.

The special school, which is part of The Active Learning Trust, is the first school in the county to provide specialist and dedicated support and facilities for SEN students aged two-years-old through to 25.

A dedicated wing for younger children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 will be created and the former Early Years area will be refurbished to provide improved facilities for staff. This will bring the campus in line with the required standards.

A new block will house a new hydrotherapy pool, sports hall and fitness suite, as well as independent teaching and social areas to meet the needs of young adults with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties. A new provision for Cambridgeshire, LINC 19-25 (Learning, Independence, Needs and Care), will offer accredited courses and specialist therapy services to meet the personal, daily and medical needs of up to ten young people from September 2020.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s education capital team are leading the £6.7million build project on behalf of the school. Enabling works have already begun with R G Carter officially starting on 1st July, led by designs from Atkins. The facilities are expected to be completed during the summer term 2020, ready for the academy to start using by September 2020.

Simon Bainbridge, Executive Headteacher at Highfield Ely Academy said: “Today is a monumental moment for us and we are thrilled that work has begun on our new facilities. It will provide our students with a fantastic array of new experiences to help support and stimulate them as well as build their independence. We look forward to watching the building progress, and to sharing the results with everyone.”

Simon Bywater, Chairman of the County Council's Children and Young People Committee said: “It is great to see work starting at Highfield School. The facilities for young adults aged 18-25 is a first for Cambridgeshire and enables support and care to be provided in a dedicated space designed for young adults with profound and multiple learning difficulties. The extension will also provide new classrooms for younger children, as well as brand new sports and therapy facilities for all the children and young adults at the school to enjoy.”

Paul Hutchinson, Framework Director for R G Carter, which is undertaking the building work, added: “R G Carter is delighted to have been given the opportunity to collaborate with Cambridgeshire County Council and The Active Learning Trust on this much-needed development.

“Our focus is on delivering this unique project and providing a quality teaching facility that will serve the local community for many years to come."

Mr Bainbridge was joined by representatives from Cambridgeshire County Council and constructors RG Carter to mark the occasion. The guests included:

  • Simon Bywater, Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council's Children and Young People Committee
  • Councillor Lis Every, Cambridgeshire County Councillor for Ely North
  • Councillor Anna Bailey, Cambridgeshire County Councillor for Ely South
  • Paul Hutchinson, Framework Director for R G Carter
  • Ben Garside, Client Manager for R G Carter
  • Will Robinson, Project Manager for R G Carter

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