Work to start on specialist school for youngsters with autism

The Cavendish School based at Impington Village College

Architectural drawing of The Cavendish School, which will be based at Impington Village College - Credit: The Cavendish School

Building work will start this Monday (January 11) on an internationally-recognised school for students with autism.

The Cavendish School is being built at the existing Impington Village College campus near Cambridge and is set to open this autumn.

It 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.

Ryan Kelsall, Deputy CEO of Eastern Learning Alliance, 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.”

He added: “It is fantastic to see the first building blocks of that promise come to fruition.”

The school will consist of two detached buildings, one single-storey and the other two-storey.

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Their layout and design have been carefully developed to meet the needs of students, be conducive to learning and sensitive to the social and emotional demands of the youngsters attending.

There will be calm sensory breakout rooms as well as a horticultural room.

The breakout rooms have been designed to provide staff members and students with the appropriate space to feel supported and respected, regardless of any neurological or developmental differences.

Finally, the buildings’ corridors will be wider than usual and will not contain any dead-ends which will help students navigate their way around the school easily, without feeling trapped or claustrophobic.

Initially the school will have 40 students between Years 3 and 7.

It will continue to grow afterwards year-on-year to reach a maximum capacity of 80 students, aged between seven and 19 years.

Mr Kelsall said: “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.”