A bid to build a new school in Bath and North East Somerset to meet the needs of the most vulnerable pupils at risk of permanent exclusion has been approved by the Government.

The joint application by B&NES Council and the Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership Trust proposes the construction of an ‘alternative provision’ school to be named Sulis Academy, delivering high-quality educational and vocational opportunities for children and young people who have been excluded, or are at risk of exclusion.

The school will be managed by the trust and will provide full-time education to vulnerable children who would otherwise not receive it, supporting them to rejoin mainstream education or towards employment. It will also provide specialist knowledge and support for schools and partners across the area. The proposed age range for prospective pupils is four to 16 years old.

The proposals for Sulis Academy include outreach provisions to intervene while a young person is still attending a mainstream school, helping them avoid exclusion, as well as intensive support at the Academy ahead of a phased return to mainstream education. 

Following the Government’s formal approval of the application, the council and the trust will now work closely with the Department for Education regarding a site location and delivery of the building.

Councillor Paul May, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Just like parents and carers, we want to make sure our children and young people get the best education and start in life that they can. It’s wonderful news that we have taken this major step forward in creating the first ‘alternative provision’ school in Bath and North East Somerset that will provide early intervention and targeted support to the most vulnerable children, with specialists able to step in and help them avoid exclusion before it’s too late.

“We look forward to working with the Midsomer Norton Partnership Trust and the Government to make sure Sulis Academy is an excellent provision that helps young people in our area to thrive.”

Alun Williams, CEO of Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Bath and North East Somerset Council on the development of this exciting new provision for children. The area really needs a school of this kind to support children across all age ranges, so that they can remain in school, achieve well and go on to have successful lives.

“Colin Cattanach, from the Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership, is the project manager for this development and brings a wealth of experience in setting up and leading new schools. I know like all of us, he is looking forward to working with planners and architects to deliver the project as soon as possible.”

A total of 20 schools throughout the UK were given the green light by the Department for Education. Only two of these approvals are situated in the South West. The other school in the region that has been given the go-ahead is the alternative free school for Wiltshire, applied for by Wiltshire Council.