£1.4m purpose-built SEND centre opens in east Suffolk

 The state-of-the-art SET Saxmundham Forge SEND education centre

The state-of-the-art SET Saxmundham Forge - Credit: SEH French / Ingleton Wood / Seckford Education Trust.

A new state-of-the-art specialist centre to help support and develop some of the most vulnerable young people within a mainstream educational setting has opened at a Suffolk school.

The £1.4million project has been created at SET Saxmundham School to expand the county's Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provision.

It is part of a Suffolk County Council £45 million transformation programme to create more than 850 placements.

An opening ceremony to unveil SET Saxmundham Forge, the new purpose-built centre, was held at SET Saxmundham School, part of Seckford Education Trust (SET). The event was attended by Suffolk Coastal MP Thérèse Coffey along with staff, students and trustees.

Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Thérèse Coffey and Neil Philpott, head of SET Saxmundham, open SEND centre

Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Thérèse Coffey and Neil Philpott, head of SET Saxmundham, unveil the state-of-the-art SET Saxmundham Forge - Credit: Seckford Education Trust (SET)

The project provides 48 additional places for young people aged 11 to 16 in east Suffolk who require SEND support and are currently unable to attend mainstream education on a full-time basis.

The students will benefit from being educated nearer to their homes and from developing relationships with their secondary school peers.

The two-storey specialist centre features four classrooms, break out spaces and an outdoor area. It is separate from the main school with its own entrance, though there is the opportunity for students to enjoy shared activities where appropriate. Class sizes will vary between seven and 18 students.

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East of England property and construction consultancy Ingleton Wood, and construction firm SEH French, worked together to deliver the six-month project.

Mark Barrow, chief executive officer at SET, said: “The new specialist centre at SET Saxmundham School offers an exciting opportunity to further enhance our provision for students with additional needs.

“We recognise there is a rising demand for alternative education in Suffolk and, with funding from Suffolk County Council, we are pleased to provide this bespoke learning space for students and families to access within their local community."

A Suffolk County Council SEND Sufficiency Review predicted a projected rise of 18% in the number of young people in need of SEND support between 2018 and 2020.

Rachel Hood, council cabinet member for education, SEND and skills, said: “This is wonderful news for families and will enhance the lives of local children and young people, who may need a little more help with their learning and development, for many years to come.”