Opening of new Rivertree Free (SEN) School in Kempston delayed​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ due to hold-up with building work ​​​​​​​

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The planned opening of the new special education needs (SEN) school in Kempston has been put back due to delays with building work.

Rivertree Free School was due to open in September but the start date now been put back to later this autumn with assurances pupils will continue to receive an appropriate education until they transfer to Rivertree.

A spokesperson for Bedford Borough Council explained: “The original goal was for the school to open in time for the beginning of the new school year in September, but due to unforeseen circumstances this is now due to be delayed. This will give the Trust, staff, and council the chance to help prepare for the children’s transfer to the new school.”

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The council is now set to meet parents with information sharing sessions to be held on Thursday, May 23. These will provide families with an opportunity to meet staff from the school and the Trust, as well as representatives from Bedford Borough Council’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) service.

An artist's impression of the new SEN school which will open in the autumnAn artist's impression of the new SEN school which will open in the autumn
An artist's impression of the new SEN school which will open in the autumn

The £26million school, in Hillgrounds Road, will cater for children and young people aged from two to 19 years old from across Bedford Borough, whose needs have been identified as requiring specialist educational placements. Pupils attending this new school will predominantly have profound and multiple learning disabilities, severe learning disabilities and autism.

The school has been funded in conjunction with the Department for Education (DfE) and will be run by the Bedford Inclusive Learning & Training Trust (BILTT).

It will open over three phases - 2024, September 2025, and September 2026, with 60 pupils in the first cohort.

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The spokesperson added: “Rivertree will be a fantastic addition to the network of schools in Bedford Borough when it opens this autumn.

“While delays with building work will result in the opening later than we had first hoped, the council is committed to ensuring that children who are due to join Rivertree will continue to receive an appropriate education and for their needs to continue to be met until such time as the new school opens. We will continue to keep families updated.”

Rivertree Free School, which has been built on the former Robert Bruce School site, will eventually cater for 200 pupils, and will be one of the largest schools of its kind in the country.