MORE special educational needs places will become available at a school in Andover as the county council has agreed to invest £2.2 million.

Hampshire County Council will make the major investment to expand The Mark Way School, with work expected to begin this spring.

Designed by Hampshire County Council Property Services, the scheme will deliver two new classrooms, some internal refurbishments and external upgrades and will enable the school to provide a further 20 places. This will take its existing 82 places up to 102 with effect from September 2023.

Cllr Roz Chadd, executive lead member for children’s services, said: “We’re immensely proud of the excellent offering we provide for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

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“We know there is always further to go to meet growing demand and this will create vital additional learning spaces, reducing the need for expensive independent provision and supporting greater cost-effectiveness in the long-term. To this end, I am pleased to agree the expansion of The Mark Way School.”

The Mark Way School provides education for 11 to 16-year-olds with Moderate Learning Difficulties, Autistic Spectrum Conditions and moderate hearing and or visual impairments.

A single-storey extension comprising two new classrooms, a small group room, two storerooms and a room for the school’s Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) is planned.

Additionally, landscaping works will create a new small sensory courtyard garden and other features such as raised planters, seating and an area for drama activities.

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Outside, the existing drop off and pick up arrangements will be reconfigured to improve access and pedestrian safety. Improvements are set to include reorganised parking bays, a cycle shelter and new school entrance barriers.

Enlarging the school will support the county council’s commitment to increase provision for children across the county who have special educational needs and or a disability. With the number of Education, Health and Care Plans having risen from 5,558 to 12,456 between 2015-16 and November 2021, the additional places will help to relieve school place pressures in the SEND sector and reduce reliance on more costly independent and non-maintained sector schools.

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