Tilbury Douglas completes new DfE SEN school

  • 18th March 2024

Contractor, Tilbury Douglas, has completed the construction of a new Special Educational Needs (SEN) school, Sail Academy, on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE).

Part of the Reach South Academy Trust, the new school, located in Salisbury, will offer 150 places for children aged 5-19 with special educational needs.

To create the new facilities, the former South Wiltshire UTC building has been transformed into the academy, creating a dedicated SEN school for Salisbury.

Richard Boeg, managing director for building (South) at Tilbury Douglas, said: “It is a great achievement from all those involved to be able to hand over the new facility to the Reach South Academy Trust.

“This will enable the trust to deliver specialised support in a high-quality learning environment for the young people in South Wiltshire.”

The design of the building – created by Architecture PLB – centres around creating a learning environment that supports the sensory needs of the pupils and considers their anxieties, with wider corridors and similar classroom layouts to ensure children understand their route into the classroom and to minimise confusion.

And all class spaces have a dedicated or shared group room, providing flexible teaching options to suit all needs.

As part of the refurbishment project – valued at £9.4m – minimal-but-important interventions were also made to the existing building and landscape to suit the new function for the site.

Another key challenge of the project was the fire escape strategy for the school.

Having a clear and uncomplicated strategy for fire escape is key to meeting the needs of this particular cohort of pupils.

Previous works had removed an external escape stair which was an integral part of an escape route from the building. The need to re-provide this was identified early in the design process and the challenge was to weave this as seamlessly as possible into both the plan and the external aesthetic of a building that already had three distinct architectural languages.

Dean Ashton, chief executive of Reach South Academy Trust, said: “We are all delighted with the new building and are so excited to start enjoying the new facilities.

“Our students have been so patient in waiting for this day and they will definitely enjoy the exciting opportunities that we can provide using these first-rate new facilities.

“Our young people deserve the best-possible education and I firmly believe the new building will be integral to making that a reality.”

The project team also included Mott McDonald, Jones King Partnership, and Jubb.

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