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School for Pupils with Mental Health Needs to Open in Wiltshire

levelling up

A new school in Wilshire will welcome pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH). The school named Melksham House is expected to open next year as a primary school which follows an earlier announcement that there will be a 130-pupil school in Wiltshire for students with special educational needs.

The new school

 From January 2020 Wiltshire Council have been working with NHS England to deliver new Mental Health Support Teams in Wiltshire schools. Melksham House is expected to open next year as a primary school for SEMH needs (aged 4-11), as well as an alternative provision for children and young people up to 19 years old. The new school will be part of an expanding network of places for young people with SEND across Wiltshire to help meet growing demand and ensure all young people have an opportunity to thrive.

This follows an earlier announcement there will be a 130-pupil school in Wiltshire for SEND and the development of the free school at the SAIL academy in the south. Silverwood School is also having an additional investment to extend the existing campus to provide a high quality provision for 350 pupils.

Council responses

This project marks another significant investment into Melksham, following last year’s opening of the hugely popular Melksham Community Campus. Wiltshire Council has formally notified Melksham Town Council of the plans and will also look to have constructive dialogue with them soon on the future of the old Blue Pool site. The council’s business case estimated that there would be significant annual revenue savings in the process, meaning money could be re-invested into key services.

Initially, the council was planning to convert Melksham House into office and community space but given there is a significant demand and need for this type of school across the county it was decided this approach was the best value for money option, which follows a period of due diligence. 

Councillor Laura Mayes, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “Nationally there is a rise in the need for special educational needs places and Wiltshire is no different.”We are looking at long term provision across the county which will meet the need and I’m pleased we can turn this Melksham landmark into something which is truly inspirational and will provide an amazing space for all pupils.”

Councillor Jane Davies, cabinet member for special educational needs, added: “All children have a right to an education which can help them fulfil their potential in an environment which works best for them and helps them to thrive. “Our business plan specifically states we will find the right specialist support for children with special educational needs.”

Final thought

A focus on the emotional health and wellbeing of children is critical to their social development and educational achievement, as well as to the fulfilment of a healthier and happier generation. Melksham House will hopefully offer more children and young people the opportunity to have their specialist education needs met.

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