A SCHOOL in Andover for children with special educational needs has marked the successful conclusion of significant building works worth £2.6m.

The Mark Way School has expanded its capacity by 20 additional places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Cllr Edward Heron, Hampshire County Council’s executive lead member for children’s services, recently joined school staff for a special reception to commemorate the completion of the construction project.

He said: “It was a pleasure to visit The Mark Way School and to see the many excellent improvements that have been made.

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"Hampshire, as with other local authorities nationally, continues to see exceptionally high demand for special school places. Our £2.6m investment in The Mark Way School has created 20 additional places – all of them vitally needed – that will help more children to access the specialist support they require.

"It has also improved the overall learning environment so that all pupils here can continue to enjoy high-quality school facilities that are fit for purpose and meet their needs.”

The Mark Way School teaches young people aged 11-16 with moderate learning difficulties. The recent expansion, completed in May 2023, has bolstered the school's capacity from 82 to 102 pupils.

The project involved the construction of two new classrooms, two group rooms, and the enhancement of outdoor spaces for students. Additionally, extensive internal refurbishments were carried out in the existing school building.

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Sonia Longstaff-Bishop, headteacher of The Mark Way School, said: "The school expansion is such a positive improvement to the school that further enables us to meet the needs of the young people that attend. It is supporting us to provide an even better curriculum offer that helps our young people to access positive life chances. The students, staff and governors have been pleased to receive this investment.”

Cllr Heron extended his gratitude to everyone involved in the project, saying: “Thank you to the headteacher, governors and school staff for their support and patience throughout the design and construction, and also to the pupils who have taken it all in their stride while works were underway. Finally, thank you to all county council staff involved in the design, planning and delivery of the project, as well as the contractor Morgan Sindall, without whom this project simply wouldn’t have been possible.”

The building works at The Mark Way School are part of Hampshire County Council’s broader 2023-2026 capital programme for children’s services, which outlines substantial investment in mainstream and special schools, early years settings, and children’s social care.