Final preparations are underway for the opening of a new school for autistic children in Washington.

The Harry Watts Academy Harraton is a temporary school while work continues to be completed on the Harry Watts Academy, which is due to open in 2021. The site is able to accommodate 40 to 50 pupils who have Autism, while the main academy will have 96 places.

The £350,000 refurbishment of the building includes a refresh of teaching areas, the creation of SEN/Autism specific resources such as group rooms and hygiene facilities, and work to the external areas.

As well as building works, Sunderland City Council and the Trust have had to organise Ofsted approval for the building, arrange procurement, and contact families who are eligible for the school to ensure pupils have places on the opening day.

Councillor Louise Farthing, a Labour Councillor for Washington South Ward, said: “We are beyond impressed at the quick turn around of the Harry Watts Academy Harraton.

“To be able to have a new school ready to open within three months is incredible, and I would like to send my thanks to everyone who has helped allow this project to be such a success.

“The ability to provide the right care and education to children with Autism is vital. Sunderland City Council aim to ensure that every child receives the best support, so that they can go on to achieve opportunities later in life. I have no doubt that the Harry Watts Academy Harraton will provide this for every pupil.”

Derek Cogle, Head Teacher, Harry Watts Academy commented “This is an exciting opportunity for autistic pupils in Sunderland and surrounding areas, we are overjoyed to be able to open the school at the beginning of the school year to provide consistency for the children.   

“Harry Watts staff are delighted to be launching Harry Watts Academy in Washington and are looking forward to building excellent links in the area, to support the school in years to come.” 

Mark Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Prosper Learning Trust, commented: “This is an exciting time for Harry Watts Academy, as a new school community begins its journey. 

“Working together with all our partners, staff, parents/carers and pupils we will create a school that will be recognised as a centre of excellence, providing a curriculum that will meet the needs of all its pupils, a school that will make all those associated with it extremely proud.

“Prosper Learning Trust are thrilled that the new site at Harraton will allow Harry Watts Academy to open on time.  We would like to thank colleagues at Sunderland City Council and all involved for making this happen in such a difficult circumstances.”