Building work signed off at new special school for young people with autism

The official date for the building work at The Cavendish School, a unique special school for young people with autism, has been set. Commencing on Monday 11 January 2021, The Cavendish School will be built on the south-east side of the existing Impington Village College campus, and will include the erection of one single-storey and one two-storey detached buildings.

The layout and design of the school has been developed to meet the needs of its students, to be conducive to learning and sensitive to the social and emotional demands of individuals. The new site will include calm sensory breakout rooms, as well as a horticultural room which will enrich the school’s vocational offering with opportunities for planting and growing. Breakout rooms will provide staff members and students with the appropriate space so they can feel supported and respected, regardless of any neurological or developmental differences.

The corridors of the buildings will be wider than usual and will not contain any dead-ends to help students navigate their way around the school more easily, without feeling trapped or claustrophobic. The presence of natural light, proven to be particularly beneficial to young people with autism, has also been factored into the design of the classrooms so that they are well-lit places for learning.

Ryan Kelsall, Deputy CEO of Eastern Learning Alliance, of which The Cavendish School is part of, said: “It’s incredibly exciting that we now have a date for the on-site building work to get started in preparation for the official launch of The Cavendish School in autumn 2021. One of our aims is to provide a safe, nurturing space, alongside inclusive and comprehensive support so that all of our students thrive. It is fantastic to see the first building blocks of that promise come to fruition.”

The Cavendish School will be the world’s first International Baccalaureate special autism school and Cambridgeshire’s first state maintained special free school for young people with autism. The school aspires to support students in its mission of ‘enabling the self’; equipping students with the skills, confidence and abilities to take their place in the world. Initially the school will admit around 40 students (Years 3 to 7) and will then grow, year on year, to a maximum capacity of 80 students, aged 7 to 19 years (Years 3 to 13).

Kelsall continued: “Our hope is that young people with autism learn to love and celebrate their differences – seeing them as bridges, not barriers. The Cavendish School and its unique building design has been developed in such a way to empower students in their journey of finding their own way in the world.”