THE construction of a new school for children with complex needs and disabilities is under way.

Diggers have moved into the site in Audley Avenue, Urmston, which is earmarked as the new home for The Orchards.

Since its opening in 2016, the special educational needs (SEN) school has occupied a building on the Acre Hall Primary School site in Irlam Road.

Its new campus will include 14 classrooms and a nursery, with capacity for 96 children aged three to 11.

Helen O’Brien, head of school at The Orchards, said: “The staff are very much looking forward to supporting disabled learners and their families, in a bespoke learning environment.

"The school is set to provide both educational and community facilities which will enable it to become a beacon of excellence within the already vibrant special educational needs and disability (SEND) sector in Trafford.”

The Orchards will continue to cater for pupils with complex needs and speech and communication difficulties, including those with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SCLN), Severe Learning Difficulty (SLD), Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty (PMLD) and Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC). The school will use the new site to develop its speech and language therapy and a curriculum personalised for each pupil.

New equipment will be installed to support the wellbeing of pupils, including a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool.

Preston firm Conlon Construction has begun work at the site, which lies adjacent to Barton Clough Primary School.

Works will include drainage diversion, piling, timber framed construction, as well as building a car park and landscaping.

Phil Ashall, Education Funding Agency (EFA) framework delivery manager at Conlon Construction, said: “We are proud to work with The Dunham Trust to provide a brand new special educational needs school, which will truly stand out against what other schools in the region are able to offer. The Orchards will create an outstanding environment in which students will have the space and facilities they need to learn and grow.

“We’re committed to developing strong connections within the community, and expanding children’s horizons when it comes to understanding industries such as ours, and we look forward to continuing our work with the school in the months and years to come.”

The new school is due to be completed in August 2020, ahead of the next school year, and has been commissioned by the Education and Skills Funding Agency on behalf of The Dunham Trust.

Jayne Carmichael, interim CEO at the trust, said: “This is a very exciting time for The Orchards. The Orchards is celebrating its ‘good’ Ofsted inspection [July 2019] and the purpose-built school will provide significantly improved facilities.”