Essex: Special needs school rebuild project set for final approval

Market Field School headteacher Gary Smith is celebrating with pupils Bradley Coyle, Herry Mayhead,

Market Field School headteacher Gary Smith is celebrating with pupils Bradley Coyle, Herry Mayhead, Harvey Skiffington, Vinnie Cook, Charlie Lattimer and Luke Tucker now that long awaited plans to demolish the school and rebuild it is set to be approved at Essex County Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday. - Credit: Su Anderson

County Hall is set to give the final go-ahead for a special needs school in north Essex to be re-built.

Market Field School, in Elmstead Market, has reached capacity and the building needs more than £300,000 spending on it for maintenance.

Long-awaited plans to demolish the entire building and re-build it, with extra space for new pupils, are due to get the final approval at an Essex County Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday,

Councillors are set to approve £1.616million in funding being brought forward a year for the project, which overall will cost £9.882million.

While the work takes place the school, which caters for children aged four to 16, will relocate to the Alderman Blaxill school in Paxman Avenue, in Shrub End, Colchester, which will be empty from July and upgraded to make it suitable for special needs pupils.

Gary Smith, head teacher at the Ofsted-rated outstanding school, said: “Relief that this is finally happening would be an understatement. It has been years in the making.

“I am over the moon.

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“When I started at this school 25 years ago there were 69 pupils on the roll, and now there are 190, but the main building is the same.

“We have had to house kids in increasing numbers of temporary buildings. But children with special needs don’t deserve second-rate accommodation, they deserve luxury, the very best - and that is what they are going to get now.

“For me this scheme is a no-brainer and why it has taken so long is beyond belief to me.

“It will be a massive undertaking. In two months’ time we have got to pack everything up and move to the vacant school, set it up over the summer, and in another year do it all again.

“It is all very scary and exciting, really bittersweet - there are a lot of memories here.

“Although the building is changing the family feel will remain. We aim for that family feel, and everything I have said is a reflection of how the staff, pupils and their families are feeling too.

“I would like to thank everyone who had shown interest and support in the project as they have enabled it. The public have been behind us all the way.”