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Sunderland City Council prepare to open doors to new school for autistic children

Harry Watts

Final preparations are underway for the opening of a new Sunderland school that caters to children with autism.

The Harry Watts Academy Harraton, which is based at the former Harraton Centre in Washington, is to be 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 promises 96 spaces.

Work began on the site in June, and despite commencing works in a time of such uncertainty Sunderland City Council have worked with Prosper Learning Trust and the appointed contractor, A.C.T Construction Services, to achieve the quick turnaround of the project. Now, the school prepares to open its doors and welcome pupils.

The £350,000 redesign and refurbishment of the building includes a refresh of all the 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 Prosper Learning 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 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."

Mark Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Prosper Learning Trust, said: "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."

Derek Cogle, Head Teacher, Harry Watts Academy said: "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."

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Perhaps Sunderland's most prominent landmark is Penshaw Monument. It was built in 1844 in honour of the first Earl of Durham, John George Lambton. Penshaw was modelled on Theseion, the Temple of Thesus in Athens.


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