WORK has started to expand a specialist school in Taunton.

A ground-breaking ceremony was held his month to officially mark the beginning of construction at Taunton’s Sky Academy.

The school provides specialist educational and residential care for young people with complex social, emotional and learning difficulties.

Somerset County Council has appointed construction company Willmott Dixon to deliver the project which will create a new single-storey building providing an additional six classrooms with space for a further 40 students to attend the school.

Willmott Dixon’s team was joined by representatives from Sky Academy and Somerset County Council officers and local Cllr Giuseppe Fraschini to mark the start of building works.

Cllr Frances Nicholson, lead member for children’s services at County Hall, said: “The expansion of Sky Academy is part of our Local First strategy of making sure every part of Somerset has the school places that will really meet the needs of the children and young people in that area who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

"Children and young people with SEND have the right to a good education as near as possible to their own communities, just like every child, and these new places at Sky Academy will go a long way to making this a reality.”

David Simons, head teacher at Sky Academy, said: "The entire school community is delighted that work has started on this important project.

"As a result of the additional spaces, we will be able to support more young people with special educational needs in the local community and from across Somerset.

"It will make a huge difference to the provision and service we can offer at Sky Academy."

Rob Woolcock, operations director for Willmott Dixon in the South West, said: “This new teaching block will provide a safe and sustainable building for the students.

"We have a solid understanding of the school’s requirements, having worked on similar local projects for children and young people with SEND.

"We are delighted to see construction underway.”

The new teaching block at Sky Academy has been designed around a ‘pod’ layout with each classroom created for a maximum of ten students.

Construction work is due to be completed in summer 2022 in readiness for opening in the autumn term.