A NEW school for children with additional needs in Weymouth and Portland has moved a step closer to reality - with a site and opening date now confirmed.

Dorset Council is working with the Department for Education (DfE) on the new school, which will be located at Osprey Quay on Portland.

It will provide up to 75 places for children and young people aged 14-19 years with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).

With a view to opening for the autumn of 2023, this project is being led by the DfE as part of its Free School programme and will be sponsored by Delta Education Trust.

Cllr Andrew Parry, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Education, Children & Early Help said: “We are thrilled that this DfE Free School project is happening. It will bring added investment to the Weymouth & Portland area and we look forward to working with them and the contractors once they are appointed following the tender process. We’ll be keeping everyone updated as each project progresses, and the great news of this additional funding will help us to change the lives of Dorset children and their families.”

John White, CEO of the Delta Education Trust added: “The Delta Education Trust is delighted to be opening another special free school at Osprey Quay. Our Trust is committed to serving local communities by providing an outstanding education for pupils and exciting employment opportunities for staff. This new school will enable us to do that for the people of Portland, Weymouth, and Dorset.”

Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset, said: “I am delighted that this exciting and much-needed special free school is finally confirmed and will now go ahead. I can think of nowhere better for the teenage students to go, where the island’s unique characteristics and clean sea air will provide a wonderful environment in which to learn.”

Alongside this investment by the DfE, Dorset Council is investing a £37.5 million plan to improve the lives of Dorset children with SEND, which is seeing investment in special schools across the council area including Coombe House in Shaftesbury and the expansion Beaucroft School in Wimborne.