New school could be built in Eastbourne

Projected plans of Summerdown School
Projected plans of Summerdown School

A new school could be built in Eastbourne after a project received funding from the Department of Education.

The Southfield Multi-Academy Trust has submitted plans to open Summerdown School and Southfield Centre in 2021, which will accommodate up to 150 pupils between the ages of three and 16 with autism and complex learning and medical needs.

According to a design and access statement submitted to Eastbourne council, the special school and centre will be situated behind St Wilfrid’s Hospice just off Cross Levels Way.

The site currently holds four football pitches, two of which will be lost, which form part of Eastbourne Sports Park initiative. The school will provide up to 100 jobs, according to the plans, and include a library, quiet calming rooms, a hydrotherapy pool and soft play rooms.

The Southfield Multi-Academy Trust currently runs three ‘exceptional’ special schools according to their website, and with the addition of Summerdown School and Southfield Centre they will be working across four schools and six sites in Eastbourne.

A Southfield Trust spokesperson said, “The trust works together to create a happy, caring, safe and stimulating environment in which pupils/students can develop to their full potential.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesperson said, “This school is one of four new free schools for children with special educational needs (SEN) planned around the county.

“With a growing need for places for children with autism and profound multiple learning difficulties, it’s vital we have enough school places to meet demand in the years ahead and this is set out in our SEND strategy.

“The Southfield Trust, supported by the county council, successfully applied to the Department for Education for approval for this school in Eastbourne via the DfE’s free schools programme, and the planning application will now be determined by Eastbourne Borough Council.”

The Southfield Multi-Academy Trust currently run both the East and West South Downs School, Hazel Court Secondary School, Hazel Court Further Education Department and The Lindfield School.

The plans have been submitted to Eastbourne Borough Council for approval.