Following the successful bid for funding to build a new autism school, a site has been confirmed in Crowthorne.
Having considered a number of sites throughout the borough, the council’s executive agreed this week that Buckler’s Park is where the new autism school will be built.
The new school will accommodate 100 pupils from reception to year 13, with the site providing indoor and outdoor teaching spaces.
Work will now start on the design and planning of the school with it due to open its doors to pupils from September 2026.
Cllr Roy Bailey, executive member for children, young people and learning, said:
“Improving services and opportunities for children and young people with SEND is a big priority and this new school will provide much needed provision.
“While the original plan for this land had been a primary school, the pupil numbers locally do not justify the need for this. We are lucky to have excellent primary schools within easy reach of Buckler’s Park and therefore the site is better used for a SEND school.
“Working with CALA homes, we will be able to start construction once the design and planning stages have been completed. It is anticipated that the school will be ready to welcome pupils in September 2026.
“The new school will accommodate 100 pupils, far lower than that of the originally proposed primary school which will result is less traffic to the site. Transport will be made available for children travelling from around the borough.”
The site at Buckler’s Park was chosen as it allows for the quickest construction and is the most cost-effective option.
The school’s roll of 100 pupils takes into consideration the size of the site and the class sizes appropriate for the best possible learning environment for pupils’ educational needs. It will accommodate children from across the borough.
The council is also working with local schools to create additional SEN places through specialist provisions and units. Places will include additional capacity for children and young people with autism.
The council’s decision-making executive agreed the location at its meeting on 19 September, 2023.
The council participated in the first tranche of the government’s Delivering Better Value (DBV) in SEND programme and successfully bid for £1million funding to further improve inclusive services for children and young people with SEND.
In addition to the successful £1million bid for the DBV programme, the council was also successful in its bid to build a new autism special school.
The Buckler’s Park site had been allocated for education as part of the original planning for the development, with the expectation of a two-form entry primary school being required. Since work started on the development, primary pupil numbers in mainstream education in the borough have reduced, while the number of children of all ages with SEND requirements has increased over time and is due to continue to rise.
The current special school provision in the borough is at capacity and local mainstream schools have sufficient places to accommodate children from the development. From the current data, the addition of a primary school on the site would have a detrimental impact on other local schools, by further increasing vacancies.
The majority of primary aged children living on the development attend one of two schools within a mile and a half, with others mainly attending one of the other 4 primary schools within two and a half miles. Families on the development have a choice of established high quality local schools at primary level.