Specialist Garden Village school to be built in Darlington

A NEW specialist school is to be built in the North-East as part of a multi-million pound investment in learning for students who live with autism.

The state-of-the-art 48 place centre of learning will form part of the Garden Village development on the west side of Darlington and will be run by the Education Village Academy Trust (EVAT).

The Department for Education is currently appointing a lead officer to work with EVAT on the school which will provide specialist learning for students aged 11-19 with autistic spectrum disorder.

Around 100 staff, including a principal, a deputy, teachers, teaching assistants and therapists, will work in the brand new facility, off Newton Lane, which is expected to open its doors in around two years’ time.

DfE has committed to spend £105m over the next four years by building 15 special needs schools to meet a growing demand for places following greater recognition of pupils’ learning difficulties, particularly around autism.

EVAT already operates two highly successful schools for children with additional needs – Beaumont Hill Academy and Marchbank Academy. It also runs Gurney Pease Academy, Springfield Academy and Haughton Academy. All schools are rated ‘good’ by Ofsted.

Chief executive Mike Butler said: “the Garden Village School will allow us to improve opportunities for ASD learners, particularly girls on the spectrum, who currently have much-reduced chances of a good education.

EVAT chief executive Mike Butler

“At the moment some ASD leaners are having to travel long distances for their schooling, which can have a disorientating and tiring effect, inhibiting their ability to learn. Having provision on their doorstep will be so much better for their education as they will become fully connected with their local community and be able to build meaningful relationships there.

“As a Trust our core strength is built on the expertise we have developed at Beaumont Hill and Marchbank to offer an exceptional learning experience to children who need the most support. We are passionate about embracing the uniqueness of every pupil and consider individual learning requirements and tailor bespoke curricula to enable all learners to achieve their full potential.

“This is a tremendously exciting opportunity which will allow us to prepare these young people for adulthood. It will be an aspirational learning environment that will maximise outcomes for the young people, ensuring they have the right skills to benefit themselves and the town.

Facilities will include science laboratories, arts and ceramic studios, engineering and design technology workshops and a forest school.

Garden Village School pupils will also have access to a range of specialist resources and enrichment opportunities at the Education Village, including an interactive theatre, a youth club, secured outside spaces, and sports facilities featuring indoor and outdoor playing courts, playing fields, a 25-metre swimming pool and a hydrotherapy pool.

All pupils will be offered personalised study programmes leading to a range of qualifications and careers guidance, enabling them to successfully move on to further education, training or employment. EVAT already has strong links with Darlington College and Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College to support post 16 learning.

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