March 19, 2024

Project team return four years after completion of Sybil Andrews Academy to deliver new SEND facilities

Construction has officially begun at Sybil Andrews Academy in Bury St Edmunds to create a new SEND unit for 18 pupils.

Representatives from the school, Suffolk County Council, Unity Schools Partnership, Concertus and Barnes Construction gathered on-site to celebrate the start of work of ‘The Abbey’ – which is part of the county council’s £55million investment into creating more than 1,000 new SEND placements across the county.

Andrew Reid, Cabinet member for Education and SEND at Suffolk County Council, said: “It is always an exciting milestone for any school when the first spade goes into the ground. This unit will make a significant difference to SEND families in the community and will be a great asset to the school. We set out in 2019 to provide more than a thousand new specialist placements for SEND pupils across the county, with around 741 new places already created and another 84 to be ready by September. This investment of £55million continues to make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Joe Pointon, head of school at Sybil Andrews Academy, added: “We are delighted that building work has started on The Abbey, which is a cognition and learning Unit for pupils in Key Stages 3 and 4. The plans show that the unit will have bright and airy classrooms, an outdoor learning area and break-out spaces. Once it is completed, the unit will provide a broad curriculum which will prepare the pupils for life beyond school.
“We can’t wait to see the new building develop over the next few months and we look forward to welcoming our first pupils in September.”

The final phase of Sybil Andrews Academy was completed back in Summer 2020 and now the original design and property consultants and main contractor who delivered these works four years ago, have returned to create a new single-storey SEND unit.

New grass and asphalt areas will be created with external canopies, helping to elevate the learning environment for the children by encouraging outdoor learning. The unit location allows for new vehicular and pedestrian access to be created. Although separate access to the dedicated and discrete learning area will be provided, careful consideration went into the location of the unit to enable students to be included in mainstream school life when needed.

Steven Ryles, Associate for Concertus, said: “We are passionate about supporting Suffolk County Council in creating calming and inspiring environments to allow pupils to develop independence and self-confidence. A highly valued relationship has been created between the project team and the school over the past nine years so we are confident that the needs of the children will be met with the creation of the new unit. We are thrilled that the project has hit this fantastic milestone”.

Damien Kerry, Associate Divisional Director at Barnes Construction, said: “We are delighted to be back at Sybil Andrews Academy helping Suffolk County Council and Concertus to release this exciting new SEND facility.”

Having recently completed the expansion and reconfiguration of the former Harbour Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) school into the new Horizon PRU in Lowestoft, Concertus and Barnes Construction continue to work alongside the Council and its partners to support all children and young people with SEND to meet their potential and live active, healthy, and fulfilling lives as part of their local community.