Published: 12:56, 21 July 2020
| Updated: 12:57, 21 July 2020
Pupils are expected to walk through the doors of a new special free school on Sheppey in September 2022.
The secondary school will be built on the former Danley Middle School site in Halfway Road and cater for 120 young people.
It will be open to those who have social, emotional and mental health difficulties, including those with autism and communication difficulties.
After a competition process, overseen by Kent County Council (KCC) and the Department for Education (DfE), The SABDEN Multi-Academy Trust has been appointed to run the school.
Based in East Sussex, the organisation "has a proven track record of providing specialised education to young people" who have learning challenges.
It also runs alternative provision units for pupils who are struggling as well as a residential facility in East Sussex.
Chief executive of the academy trust, Frank Stanford, said: "The trust is thrilled to be opening this ambitious and aspirational new school on the Isle of Sheppey.
"The new school will enable local children requiring a special school place to access suitable provision."
"We will offer a personalised curriculum with a strong focus on academic, literacy and personal development.
"We will offer outstanding opportunities for children, young people and families on Sheppey and look forward to seeing this innovative school come to fruition."
The need for a special free school on the Isle of Sheppey was identified by KCC in previous versions of its rolling Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent.
A bid was submitted to the DfE in October 2018 for funding for a new special free school for secondary pupils on the Isle of Sheppey.
KCC was advised in March 2019 the bid was successful and a competition process to find a sponsor for the proposed school would take place.
KCC’s cabinet member for education and skills, Cllr Richard Long (Con), said: "I am delighted The SABDEN Multi-Academy Trust has been appointed to run the new free special secondary school on the Isle of Sheppey and that building work will commence soon with the intention of opening this much needed provision in September 2022.
"The new school will enable local children requiring a special school place to access suitable provision within their local community, enhancing their opportunities to develop social links and become more independent.
"It will also help the County Council to ensure maximum effectiveness of High Needs budgets by reducing demand for SEN (Special Educational Needs) transport and independent provision.
"I shall enjoy watching the new school take shape and I very much look forward to meeting staff and the first cohort of pupils in just over two years’ time."
A name for the new school is yet to be announced.
The announcement of the sponsor and the intended opening date comes as the DfE revealed about 3,000 extra school places will be created across the country for pupils with the most complex needs.