Frequently asked questions
Q1. Why is this new special school needed?
There is a shortage of specialist provision within South Gloucestershire to meet the needs of pupils with complex learning difficulties. The number of children with learning difficulties is projected to increase and this proposed facility will improve the Council’s learning provision across South Gloucestershire.
Q2. Who are Enable Trust?
Enable Trust is a specialist Multi Academy Trust based in South Gloucestershire with a strong vision to work together to achieve the best outcomes for children and young people with SEND. Enable Trust has a strong track record of doing just this, with New Siblands School in Thornbury having been graded ‘outstanding’ in its most recent Ofsted inspection. New Siblands School has a long history of very positive collaboration with Marlwood School on joint projects around the arts and sports. Some former Marlwood students who did their work experience at New Siblands have gone on to become specialist SEND teachers in South Gloucestershire.
Q3. What area will the proposed school serve?
The proposed Two Bridges Academy will support pupils with complex learning difficulties from South Gloucestershire. It is possible that neighbouring local authorities may commission places as is consistent with the Children and Families Act and the SEN Code of Practice.
Q4. How is the school being funded?
The scheme is being funded by the Department of Education (DfE) school building programme, launched in November 2017, the DfE has at its disposal £8.0 billion for school building projects. Schools, Trust’s and Local Authorities can apply for funding to finance their own school building project. Enable Trust was successful in receiving funding for the development.
Q5. Where are the main access points to the site?
The proposed vehicle and pedestrian access points are both off Vattingstone Lane. A new public footpath will be constructed alongside Vattingstone Lane to give safe pedestrian access.
Q6. What are the arrangements for pupil drop off and pick up?
The pupils will be dropped off and picked up by minibus or taxi, using the drop off areas within the car park. These times will be managed by the Trust and coordinated with Marlwood School.
Q7. How will you mitigate the conflict between vehicles and pedestrians/children/cyclists?
Conflict between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists have been considered through the creation of two site entry points; one for vehicular access and one for a shared cycle (dismounted) and pedestrian access.
Q8. How do I apply for a school place at the new school?
Children who have an Education, Health and Care Plan, or who are having an assessment for one, will be able to request a place through the Local Authority.
Q9. Will any facilities or spaces be available for Marlwood School?
The two schools will have a comprehensive inclusion strategy that will outline the range of work experience opportunities (child care, specialist nursing, hospitality and catering) mentoring opportunities and professional development activities that the schools will facilitate. Additionally, use of outdoor and indoor areas may have a separate lettings arrangement.
Q10.How will the loss of a playing field impact on Marlwood School?
The School has a surplus of playing fields available, due to the number of pupils on role. The playing field proposed for use by the new school has not been used by Marlwood for sports for some time. New facilities will also be available for Marlwood due to the co-location of the schools, as well as the general public (out of school hours).
Q11. Will the school be fenced off from Marlwood School?
The boundary between Two Bridges Academy and Marlwood School will be defined by a secure perimeter weld mesh fence and softened with some native boundary hedge planting.
Q12. How can you justify this development in the Greenbelt?
National planning policy sets out that, subject to some exceptions, development within the Green Belt should be considered inappropriate. Where development does not fall within one of the accepted exceptions, it should only be permitted in ‘very special circumstances’.
Very special circumstances will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of its inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.
The applicant believes that there is a compelling educational need for the SEND school in this location, and that this constitutes very special circumstances. The planning application will be supported by a robust ‘very special circumstances’ case providing justification for the development.
Q13. How many, if any, of the existing trees will need to be removed?
The site design has been developed with full consideration of the existing trees within and around the site with the retention of existing trees where possible. If any trees need to be removed, as part of the works or indeed if they have been deemed for removal within the arboricultural assessment, then their loss will be mitigated through the planting of new trees.
Q14. How will you protect wildlife and ecology, mitigate views, etc?
Maintaining existing vegetation to the site boundary where possible will not only aid in assimilating the built form into the local context, but it will also ensure biodiverse connectivity is maintained.
Q15. How will you mitigate noise and disturbance to Marlwood School during construction?
The site will be segregated from Marlwood School by a secure solid hoarding to the boundary. Construction traffic will access the site through the permanent site entrance which will be the first element of works to be constructed. The new car park will be used for storage and contractors parking. Deliveries will take cognisance of Marlwoods start and finishing times, so as not to cause congestion on Vattingstone Lane.
Q16. How are you involving the local community in your plans?
Enable Trust has worked extensively with CSET and Marlwood school to clarify the benefits to both school communities.
Q17. What are the sustainability credentials for the proposed school?
The proposed school will be ‘Net Zero Carbon’ in operation which simply means that the building will be self-sufficient in generating its own energy. The building will use materials with low quantities of embedded carbon. Rainwater harvesting will be used to flush the toilets. Air Source heat pumps will be used to generate hot water for the heating system and the hydrotherapy pool.
Q18. What is the timeline for submission of the planning application and construction?
Planning submission is targeted for late spring, with the aim of starting construction in October 2021 and completion in spring 2023.
Q19. Will the Hydrotherapy Pool be available for private hire?
Disability groups and specialist health providers will be able to let the hydrotherapy pool outside of school hours. Not only will this support the sustainability of operating the pool in terms of costs, but there is a huge shortage of specialist hydrotherapy pools for therapeutic use for physiotherapists to access for wider community use.
Q20. What sort of outdoor pursuits will be available to the children?
It is proposed that the school site will have a hard play area for sports such as boccia, football, adapted cricket, tennis and basketball. The landscaped grounds will support outdoor learning (forest school), nature-based play, sensory programmes and access to specialist equipment such as wheelchair accessible play equipment will support all learners in holistic, person centred outdoor activities and sports
Q21. Will there be a café?
Yes, a cafe is proposed to be used for vocational learning, work experience and events.