WORK has been completed on a £2.85million unit in Taunton to educate children and young people unable to attend mainstream schools.

The Holway Centre has been converted into a pupil referral unit (PRU) for up to 35 five to 16-year-olds.

An open day is being held there next Tuesday (November 16) between noon and 6pm, with an official opening ceremony taking at 4pm.

The Holway Centre, part of Taunton Deane Partnership College, features bespoke workshops and practical spaces for teaching vocational skills, alongside classrooms for core curriculum subjects including science, technology, English, art and maths.

Pupils are often referred to a PRU if they need support beyond what their school can provide and work with mainstream schools to support pupils to stay within their settings.

Holway is one of four Somerset PRUs, which collectively have the capacity to accommodate 273 youngsters.

Somerset County Council has funded the unit with demand for specialised school places continuing to rise as housing developments are delivered and the population increases.

The refurbishment project will help ensure sufficient specialised places for the next 10 to 15 years.

Refurbishment of the former primary school building on Byron Road was completed over the summer to enable students on site from the start of the 2021/22 academic year.

Cllr Frances Nicholson, the council's lead member for children’s services, said: “I’m very pleased to see work on this project completed on time and on budget, with students already benefitting from the positive learning environment that these new facilities provide.

“Somerset County Council is committed to the delivery of high-quality education to all children across Somerset, whatever their abilities, needs or challenges, providing opportunities for them all to achieve their potential.”

Kim Lawrence, headteacher at Taunton Deane Partnership College, which includes the Holway Centre, said: “The refurbishment at the Holway Centre is really exciting.

"The work we do at Taunton Deane Partnership College is always looking at supporting our young people both now and in preparation for their next steps.

"Having the opportunity to access fully equipped classrooms and vocational spaces, including a workshop and teaching kitchen, are key to this.

"Our staff work hard to meet the needs of children and young people who have often struggled in mainstream settings, and I am pleased that we now have the facilities to help them with this.

"We look forward to welcoming the local community, as well as colleagues from local schools, through our doors at our open day."

Rob Woolcock, director at Willmott Dixon, said: “We are very pleased to have been involved in this project and to support Somerset County Council in its delivery of high-quality education for pupils in Taunton”.