Staff and pupils from the school had the chance to see the work for themselves when they paid a visit to the school’s new home at the former Red Bank Education Unit in Newton-le-Willows with members of St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet.
Contractor Galliford Try will complete the transformation of the site so that the maintained special school can continue to support young people from across the borough.
The council approved the £7.6m project in September 2020 which will see the vacant site brought back to life with the extension of the existing building to create a more therapeutic learning environment, incorporating new learning spaces as well as a dining and multipurpose sports hall.
The works also include a new playing field, sports pitch, car park, fencing and amended access from Winwick Road.
As part of the contract Galliford Try will also deliver more than 20 projects aimed at supporting the wider community and delivering social value for the area. Among those is an exciting community project with Wargrave Special Educational Needs School to create an outdoor classroom and community café.
Councillor Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Business, said: “It’s fantastic to finally see work starting on this exciting project that will support young people across our borough who need the specialist care and education that Penkford provides. We are committed to make sure every child in our borough gets the best start in life so now it’s great to see ideas we have been talking about coming to life.
“We’re also delighted that Galliford Try are connecting with the wider community in Newton-le-Willows and are delivering a range of projects to support other schools and groups in the area.”
Darren Parker, Managing Director for Galliford Try Building North West, commented: “Social value is one of the key elements of Galliford Try’s Sustainable Growth Strategy and we are excited to be able to implement such a fantastic programme alongside the Penkford School. Not only will that value provide a lasting benefit to the local community going forward, but the new school is set to be a high-quality facility that will help provide the welcoming educational environment these students deserve.”
Anne Kyle, Head Teacher at Penkford School added: “The Special Educational Needs children of St Helens deserve the best facilities to learn in, as they already have so many barriers to learning to overcome. The whole school community, but especially the pupils are so excited and grateful to St Helens Borough Council for investing in them and their futures. We cannot wait to start our learning journey in our brand new school.”
The rebuild of Penkford was a pledge made by Labour in May’s elections. We said it, we meant it!