The official opening ceremony for the new facilities at The Sky Academy in Taunton was held on 28 September 2023.
Invited guests from Somerset Council, academy staff and governors, and representatives of the school’s parent trust Cabot Learning Federation attended a cake-cutting ceremony to unveil the extension.
The Sky Academy is a special school for boys with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs and Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) and is currently the only special school of its type within the County.
The £4.9 million expansion includes six new classrooms, break out rooms, a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) room, kitchenettes, and activity space. Research shows that good quality well-designed school buildings have a direct impact on pupils’ learning at school and so Somerset Council worked closely with contractors and the school to ensure the design was right.
This expansion has enabled The Sky Academy to take pupils from years 5 and 6 and help increase their chance of long-term success beyond education.
The expansion of Sky Academy is part of Somerset Council’s commitment to ensuring that children with SEND have specialist support close to where they live. Work is also underway to build a new special free school in South Somerset, which will open in September 2024 and provide for a further 120 pupils. Another special free school is planned to open in the Wells area in 2027.
Councillor Tessa Munt, Executive Lead Member for Children and Families, said:
At Somerset Council, we are committed to providing equal learning opportunities to all young people. This project has shown our commitment to ensuring all pupils have the opportunity to learn new skills to take into employment.
During the Sky expansion Willmott Dixon, the main contractor, worked with students to teach them construction skills like bricklaying. Following the success of this training, Wilmott Dixon offered one of the Sky Academy students an apprenticeship at another local site, the Digital Innovation Centre in Taunton.
It is fantastic to see this important project completed, ensuring even more young people in Somerset can benefit from a specialist learning environment close to home.
The Headteacher at Sky Academy, said:
We are very proud to be at the heart of Somerset’s SEND improvement strategy for young people with SEMH needs. This new facility has further enabled us to provide the aspirational challenge, nurture and education that Sky has become known for – championing the success and life chances of all children.