- Work begins today on new £8 million school for up to 64 children, many from difficult backgrounds and with complex educational needs
- Hamilton School replaces the old Phoenix College, which became part of the Maiden Erlegh Trust earlier this year
WORK to create a new home for Hamilton School, which caters for children with special needs in Reading, begins today (Nov 9th).
Hamilton School will be located on the site of the old Hamilton Centre in Bulmershe Road. It will cater for up to 64 secondary school children with complex needs, many from challenging backgrounds, who may struggle in mainstream schools.
The school became an academy when it joined the Maiden Erlegh Trust on January 1st this year. It replaces Phoenix College, whose buildings in Christchurch Road were in a poor condition and unsuitable for special needs pupils.
The project to redevelop and remodel the former Hamilton Centre building will cost £8 million. The Department for Education (DfE) is contributing £5.6 million with the remaining £2.4 million funded by Reading Borough Council through its agreed capital programme of investments across the borough.
Planning permission for the new Hamilton School was granted in February this year and Reading Borough Council and the Maiden Erlegh Trust have entered into a development agreement to enable the new school to be built.
The new school building is expected to open for pupils and staff to enjoy the new facilities from September 2022.
Ashley Pearce, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Education, said:
“I am delighted to see work get underway on a new home for the pupils and staff of Hamilton School. The children and young people who attend Hamilton School have, in many cases, very challenging upbringings and complex needs as a result. A brand new teaching and learning environment will make a huge difference to both their education and wellbeing, and I know that teaching staff will feel the same way.
“The Council has worked closely with the school, the Maiden Erlegh Trust, The University Technical College, the DfE and our colleagues at Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) to bring this project to fruition, and we all look forward to the new building opening in September 2022
“The creation of a new home for Hamilton School sits within the Council’s wider special educational needs strategy to support some of Reading’s most vulnerable pupils. The strategy will also see proposals being developed for two more specialist SEN units, and an overall increase in the number of Early Years SEN places being offered.”
Mary Davies, CEO of Maiden Erlegh Trust, said:
“The new home for Hamilton School will make a huge difference to the quality of experience for both the students and staff, who are already working incredibly hard to improve the school. Being able to access new, purpose-built accommodation will make a real difference to all those involved. We are very grateful to Brighter Futures for Children, Reading Borough Council, and also to our colleagues at the UTC, for their support in moving this project forwards.”
Prof Dr Kate Reynolds, Director of Education at BFfC, said:
“I welcome the start of this work which will result in a vastly improved environment for the students of Hamilton School.
“We have seen a significant rise in the number of children with SEND in Reading in recent years and this project is an important part of BFfC’s and Reading Borough Council’s commitment to meet the increasing demand in the borough. We look forward to working on this exciting venture with the Maiden Erlegh Trust, which already runs several successful schools in the Reading area.”