Trust News

Salisbury Free School Project Takes Next Step towards its aim of Opening in 2023 as Building Contractor Appointed


++ Salisbury SEND Free School project hits key milestone after year of progress ++


Reach South Academy Trust is celebrating hitting a new milestone in the bid to open a special needs free school in Salisbury. The Department for Education have appointed Tilbury Douglas as the project’s preferred building contractor – a vital step to getting the school doors open and the building confirmed. The milestone comes following a year of progress for the proposed school as it comes closer to becoming a reality.


The SEND Free School project, designed for Wilton Road in Salisbury, will offer 150 places for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). The school will accommodate pupils with a diagnosis or primary need of autism (ASD) or social, emotional or mental health needs (SEMH). This will be a major contribution in ensuring that young people in south Wiltshire receive the specialised support they need.  


The site is being developed by The Department for Education in close liaison with Reach South Academy Trust and Wiltshire Council, in preparation for the Trust to take up the reins at the end of the project. Tilbury Douglas have significant experience of building SEND schools and therefore fully understand the importance of getting the environment right for the children.


The SEND Free School project team have also recently appointed Dataspire Solutions Ltd as IT provider to ensure that the proposed school has the highest possible levels of innovative IT support. Using the most up-to-date technology is crucial to building student engaging and supporting them to learn at the highest level. Project engagement between both building and IT teams will therefore commence in earnest during the early part of 2022.


Jon Hamp, Reach South Director of Individual Needs and Special Free School Project Lead, said:  

“We were delighted to hear of the appointment of Tilbury Douglas as the approved building contractor and see this as a significant step taken in our bid to open the free school. Tilbury Douglas are really experienced in building schools for pupils with specific needs and I am very excited by the plans we have discussed so far. Our meetings to date have been highly detailed and have covered all aspects of both the internal and external environment. We’re looking forward to the contractor submitting planning applications to make sure we get our school building exactly as we would want it.”


Dean Ashton, Chief Executive of Reach South added,

“Special Educational Needs schools and resource bases are vital parts of the provision across our Trust. This school will prove hugely important for the young people of Salisbury and the surrounding area as we propose to address demand by significantly enhancing provision of specialised education for young people with a diagnosis or primary need of autism (ASD) or social, emotional or mental health needs (SEMH). We’ve made real progress with this project over the past year, there is still much to do before the school opens but everything is looking bright for our future plans.”


Cllr Jane Davies, Cabinet Member for SEND at Wiltshire Council, said:

“I’m pleased we can share these important developments which are part of our wider long term plan to ensure we have sufficient places across Wiltshire for children and young people with SEND. We are working closely with our partners on this important work for the south to ensure we can have the school opened and ready for learners with SEND. It is important we share these regular updates, so information and developments are known about at the earliest opportunity.”


Paul Gale, Divisional Director for Tilbury Douglas Southern region, said:

“Tilbury Douglas Construction Ltd are delighted and proud to be appointed the Selected Panel Member for the Salisbury Special Needs Free School Project.  We are very much looking forward to transforming this site, bringing our significant experience in SEND Schools to this project and working with the Department of Education, Reach South Academy Trust and Wiltshire Council to deliver this much needed facility for young people in Salisbury.”

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 Malmesbury Park Primary School Proud winners of the Dorset Art  Prize 2021

The Dorset Art Prize  was established by Bournemouth and School College in 2014 with the support of Dorset Community Foundation. The key objective of the Prize is to actively engage with all aspects of the community through encouraging and helping to create a broader, more inclusive vision for art locally. This year (2021) a new prize category for schools – the Primary School Art Prize – was introduced. The theme of the 2021 Art Prize was Narrative.


The winning art was created by children from Year 3 through to Year 6 and was part of a wider project inspired by David Attenborough’s Perfect Planet. The children thought about how the preservation of our planet was the only way our story would continue. This theme was included in all aspects of the art and, considering the needs of our planet, the resources used to create the artwork were recycled, repurposed and reused.


We are very proud and excited to have won the inaugural Primary School Art Prize and would like to thank everyone who supports us in keeping Arts at the centre of our school. We have already decided what we are spending our prize money on – a new video camera, which the children and staff can use to record our amazing Art work and create films and performances to share with the wider community. Special thanks goes to our Art Lead, Miss McPherson and her Arts team, curators of our submission, who work tirelessly to give our children as many opportunities as they can find to develop their creativity through the Arts.

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Consultation on the proposed reduction of the Published Admission Number (PAN) for Year 9 and Year 12 at UTC Plymouth

The Reach South Academy Trust Board, as Admission Authority for the UTC Plymouth, proposes to reduce the PAN for Year-9 and Year-12 from 150 to 120, with effect from September 2022. The full consultation document can  be found here

Reach South Leadership Conference
We were delighted to recently hold our Reach South Leadership Conference 2021 at The Exeter Court Hotel.  Coming together for the first time in 18 months our Executive Team and Headteachers focused on the ‘Positive Impact of Learning – Building Collective Efficacy’ and working together to ensure our core values are integrated across the Trust.

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UTC Growth

UTC Plymouth are celebrating the new school year with a visit from BBC Spotlight to celebrate the rapid expansion and welcome our first Year 7 students and largest new intake of teaching staff. Click here to watch.

Silver Teacher Award - Millbay Academy

Congratulations to Alex Boyce, Teacher at Millbay Academy, for winning a Silver Award for Teacher of the Year! Alex says it's 'absolutely amazing' to be a winner. She has been commended for adapting to remote learning and creating individual videos for each of her students to make sure they receive one-on-one attention.  


Click here to read her story.

Plymouth schools announce federation to cement benefits of partnership working


++ Millbay Academy and High Street Primary Academy will form partnership within Reach South to offer pupils best education possible ++


Two Plymouth Schools have announced that they will be entering a federation to maximise the benefits of working together. Millbay Academy and High Street Primary Academy, both part of the Reach South family, will further develop their close working relationship.


The two schools have been working closely together since the beginning of this school year, sharing strong and effective leadership, teaching expertise in curriculum development and providing wider access to resources across both schools.


Reach South has written to all parents setting out what the changes mean in practice and has circulated an extensive Q&A to help answer any questions.

In summary, the new Federation model will mean the schools sharing classes, with Reception to Year 3 pupils being taught at High Street Primary Academy, while Year 4 to 6 pupils will study at Millbay Academy. The model will provide myriad benefits for pupils, staff and the wider community for both schools through sharing expertise, resources and best practice.


The other key benefits that this Federation model will bring are:


  • Specialised teaching staff across both schools with pupils being grouped with their peers in appropriate age classes;

  • Pupils and their families will have the opportunity to develop relationships with the school over a longer period of time, ensuring their needs can better be met. They will also have a seamless transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3, which can sometimes prove to be a turbulent time;

  • Millbay Academy pupils will benefit from the high-quality outdoor learning environment at High Street Primary Academy;

  • Staff will have more opportunities for high-quality training, career and leadership progression, and the chance to work more widely across the curriculum and with pupils of all Key Stages; and

  • Clear financial benefits as the schools will be able to take advantage of economies of scale by merging back-office functions, as well as allocating more funding towards frontline teaching and education.


Stephanie Blake, Interim Headteacher at High Street Primary Academy, said:

“We are delighted with the plans to join our friends at Millbay Academy in this federation. We have been working together for some time now and the benefits of further collaboration are obvious. This will help us provide a better education for our pupils while being more efficient as a school, which is to everyone’s benefit.”


Christopher Toye, Executive Headteacher at Millbay Academy, said:

“These are really exciting plans and will help secure a fantastic future for Plymouth pupils. The team at High Street Primary Academy have been a huge source of support during an incredibly challenging year for all schools, and so the chance to work even closer with them is greatly appreciated. I know that our pupils are really looking forward to the opportunities ahead, and I can already see how much this will benefit us all.”


Dean Ashton, CEO at Reach South Academy Trust, said:

“I am confident that by working together both of these schools will be able to reach new heights and provide a great education for Plymouth children. This is a really good move for both schools and I am delighted by the plans that both school teams are coming up with. Through sharing teaching staff, resources, and expertise, I am confident that both schools will continue to move from strength to strength.”

New SEND school for Salisbury explores potential new site

Department for Education and Wiltshire Council consider former UTC building as new home for specialist school


Reach South Academy Trust in partnership with the Department for Education, Wiltshire Council and leaders from other schools, are currently involved in a feasibility study to assess the potential of the UTC building on Wilton Road, Salisbury, as the site of the new SEND free school for south Wiltshire.


The whole team is committed to developing a school that is safe and purposeful for all its pupils. We are aware of the potential of the site but also recognise that work will need to be done to make it fit for purpose. The team will use their expertise and experience to establish how a building with great space and facilities can now be significantly adapted to meet the needs of an ASD and SEMH population. The team will also question and assess how the need for suitable outdoor spaces can be accommodated.


Jon Hamp Reach South Director for SEND said:


“Everyone is very excited about the new free school – for us, this is about having new provision that will build safe, independent lives for our pupils.  Working closely with Wiltshire Council and the Department for Education, we are exploring the potential of the former UTC site and look forward to the outcome of the feasibility study.


“We have made local residents aware that these initial explorations are happening and the response has been really encouraging, with some very positive feedback.”


The UTC site will only be confirmed as the definite location for the new SEND free school once this process has been completed and any safety concerns have been addressed. Once the feasibility study has been completed the main findings will be communicated.


Reach South will begin a formal consultation on the new SEND school in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, if you have questions regarding the potential usage of the former UTC that you would like the feasibility team to consider, please feel free to contact