A SPECIAL needs schools operator is moving forward with plans to open a new secondary school in Bury.

The Kedleston Group is behind the proposed Mill School Bury — a specialist independent school for children and young people with autism and social, emotional or mental health difficulties.

Construction of the site, Wellington House, is already under way. However, due to "unavoidable construction delays", the initial opening date of February 2020 has been pushed back to the summer term.

The group is looking to provide full-time education for up to 70 pupils aged between seven and 17 from the Wellington Street site.

In a pre-registration report, Ofsted determined that the school was “unlikely to meet all the independent school standards" by the original February opening on the grounds of resourcing and the incomplete construction.

However, inspectors praised the planned curriculum and found that "apart from the standards that relate directly, or indirectly, to the refurbishment of the buildings, leaders have demonstrated that the school is likely to meet the standards."

Lee Reed, Chief Operating Officer at Kedleston Group, said: “At Mill School Bury we are creating a purpose-built and state-of-the-art school which will support up to 50 children across Key Stages 2, 3 and 4. Its opening will also create around 50 teaching and support roles.

“When we create schools such as this, we look closely at the need for specialist educational placements in the area with an aim to help children access the specialist education they need closer to home.

“When we originally applied for pre-registration, the intention was to open the school in the spring term. However, as the result of some unavoidable construction delays, the school is now likely to open in the summer term. Because of these timing delays we agreed with the DfE that we were unlikely to meet the required standards for the original opening timeframe, however we were pleased inspectors found that all standards not directly related to construction, or the physical resources dependent on building, were likely to have been met.

“We have recently reapplied to the DfE and are confident all standards will be met when inspectors return in the new year. All of our group’s provisions are rated as Good or Outstanding and we are very much looking forward to welcoming our first pupils in April 2020."

Established in 2006, Kedleston Group runs 12 other schools, including seven day schools for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs and children living with autism (ASC).

A number of teachers and support staff have been appointed already, including headteacher Shazia Sarwar-Azim.

Under plans, classes will be formed of about five pupils and two adults, with children being taught the national curriculum. Places will be offered to children and young people across Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

A major focus of the school would be to use learning environments with features such as muted colour schemes, specialist lighting and individual work stations.

Therapeutic spaces such as a sensory room and therapy room with a trampoline are also being built, plus a quiet space aimed at “reducing stress, anxiety and building resilience."

There will also be a focus on outdoor education, including forest school, horticulture, sports and a sensory garden project.