Special school set to be created at old college site
THE former Soundwell College will be turned into a new special school after an educational trust was given permission to take it over.
The new Soundwell Academy will provide 136 places for children with a combination of social, emotional, mental health or speech, language and communication needs and will be run by Learn@ Multi-Academy Trust, which already runs five other academies in Bristol and the surrounding area, including St Matthias Academy in Fishponds.
The new academy will cater for pupils from the age of five up to 19 and will include a vehicle workshop and other vocational facilities for engineering, hair and beauty, hospitality and catering training.
The academy is due to open with 28 pupils in September, in a temporary building in Patchway, while renovations to the former college are completed.
It will move on to the Soundwell site from next year, and is due to grow to its capacity of 136 pupils by September 2023.
The academy has been commissioned by Bristol, South Gloucester-shire and Bath & North East Somerset councils to accept young people from all three areas.
Head teacher Craig Abbs said: “This is an exciting new facility for the area and we will be looking to work with the local community to use these areas of the school.
“We will provide employment for up to 80 staff across teaching, specialist support, administration, technical support, catering and maintenance. Soundwell Academy will have a short break residential accommodation and this will provide opportunities for the young people to extend learning opportunities and independent skills training in preparation for adult life.
“Within the Learn@ MAT, we treat everyone equally. Through tolerance, respect and responsibility we promote and reflect equality across our whole community.”
MP Chris Skidmore said he had campaigned to ensure that the former Soundwell College site be put to an educational use.
He said: “We know that the number of children with complex needs is growing and so I am delighted that the Learn@ Soundwell School will bring new opportunities for children in Kingswood and the wider Bristol area and look forward to visiting it myself once it is open.”
“Local people have been concerned at the eyesore the site has been become since it closed and so it’s great to see that this former campus will come back into use and once again serve local education needs.”