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New North Somerset Special School Wins Unanimous Planning Approval

New North Somerset Special School Wins Unanimous Planning Approval

Proposals to build North Somerset’s first specialist school for students with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs have won unanimous support from planners.

North Somerset Council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee voted today (Wednesday) to approve an application to build the new Lime Hills Academy at Ladymead Lane in Langford.

It will be the district’s first permanent SEMH school, as the current Lime Hills Academy is operating from temporary buildings in Nailsea – and is struggling to meet the ‘urgent’ demand for its specialist provision from across North Somerset.

The new site will enable Lime Hills – part of the Cabot Learning Federation – to more than double its capacity from 29 to 65 students, aged 5-16. For many, this will mean a welcome end to hours-long daily journeys to specialist schools outside of the district.

Lis Jolley, Headteacher of Lime Hills Academy, said: “Lime Hills urgently needs a permanent home which will allow an increase in student numbers.

“At present, vulnerable children can find themselves ‘stuck’ in inappropriate provision or travelling hours every day to school because places at Lime Hills cannot be made available.

“But every child deserves the opportunity to be taught appropriately and to reach their potential within their own community, in a safe environment suitable to their needs. Without this, children can feel misunderstood and rejected by the system and excluded from their communities.

“This multi-million-pound Department for Education investment will provide a purpose-built, modern and welcoming school with impressive sustainability credentials for the communities of Churchill and Langford to share and use.

“By working together, it is possible to deliver a school and a site the local community can be truly proud of.”

The two-storey development will include specially-designed teaching rooms, plus sports and dining halls. The site will also feature sports pitches, outdoor play space, and dedicated parking and drop-off areas to minimise traffic impact on nearby roads.

North Somerset Council planning officers said: “A lack of SEND school facilities and places both locally and nationally means the need for a new SEND SEMH school is substantial.

“There is currently a significant shortfall in SEND provision in North Somerset, which means the local authority is required to send children to neighbouring districts to meet their special education needs. The length of journeys and absence of local provision can have a negative impact on behaviour, anxiety, and outcomes for the pupils concerned.

“The proposed SEND school will allow the children to be educated locally, reducing travel costs and improving educational and social outcomes.”

The application was supported by others throughout the district’s education community.

Justin Humphreys, Chair of Secondary Heads in North Somerset (SHINs), was among those to log formal statements of support with the planning authority.

He said: “The Lime Hills Academy is an essential component within education delivery in North Somerset.

“The number of students within secondary schools in North Somerset reporting significant SEMH needs continues to increase, with a number of cases beyond the resources and environment of current schools.

“The specialist provision provides much-needed support for those with acute SEMH needs and we look forward to celebrating the success of the students attending Lime Hills Academy in the future.”

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CLF teams raise thousands at Big Walk and Big Run

More than 200 colleagues from across the Cabot Learning Federation, including 2 from Lime Hills Academy took on a series of challenges this week to raise money in support of the trust’s most vulnerable pupils.

Staff and teachers from the trust’s 22 schools completed the CLF’s annual Big Run and Big Walk events on Sunday.

More than 60 team members put months of preparation and training to good use by tackling running events, with groups competing in the 10k and half marathon at the Great Bristol Run, and others completing the scenic 13 miles of the Weston Super Half.

Meanwhile, some 140 walkers took a trip to Wales to climb Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons, a four-mile walk and 2,906ft ascent amid stunning scenery.

Behind each of these challenges was an important cause, as the runners and walkers combined to raise money for a trust initiative to support disadvantaged students.

The CLF Big Trip is an action-packed summer adventure in Abergavenny for 72 of the trust’s most vulnerable pupils.

It’s an opportunity for pupils to enjoy a range of outdoor activities they have not previously experienced – all paid for by the efforts of the CLF team.

CLF Executive Principal Kate Richardson, who leads the trust’s Big Events, said: “We were thrilled to see a record number of people taking part in the CLF’s Big Walk and Big Run this year, which is testament to the wonderful spirit and camaraderie within our trust.

“The efforts of our runners and walkers will help to provide a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience for dozens of our most vulnerable students this summer.

“So huge congratulations to all those who made it to the finish line in Bristol or Weston, or to the top of Pen y Fan. It was a terrific achievement, and we are immensely proud of every one of them.”

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artist impression of the front of the new school

Plans for Lime Hill Academy submitted by DfE

With the backing of North Somerset Council’s Children’s Services for the delivery of the new SEND school, the Department for Education (DfE) have submitted plans for Lime Hills Academy’s permanent site in Langford.

If planning permission is granted Lime Hills Academy, which opened in temporary accommodation in September last year, will have places for up to 65 children and young people in year 1 to 11 (age 5-16), with primary SEMH needs (Social, Emotional Mental Health needs).

Currently there is no special school provision for pupils with a primary diagnosis of SEMH needs within North Somerset and 19% of local children with an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) have to travel outside of the area to school.

Lime Hills Academy is part of the Cabot Learning Federation and aims to ‘level up’ educational outcomes and keep children engaged in learning through specialist facilities and learning programmes. The site enables opportunities for vocational studies and outdoor sports with a closer connection to nature in a calm and sustainable environment.

The following key sustainability and biodiversity supporting aspects have been incorporated into the design:

  • low maintenance electric air source heat pumps replace use of gas boilers
  • use of photovoltaic panels (PVs) across roof space
  • maximising of daylight penetration in design to reduce use of artificial lighting
  • minimisation of construction waste and ensuring a high percentage of what is generated is diverted from landfill through reuse or recycling
  • solar gains are kept at a manageable level allowing comfort to be achieved without the use of air conditioning
  • effective surface water management, incorporating swales
  • reduction of CO2 emissions through incorporation of high insulation standards
  • reduction of water use in building facilities
  • additional trees will be planted, whilst existing trees and hedgerow will be maintained
  • introduction of habitat areas as well as bird and bat nesting boxes and bug hotels
  • compliant with latest building regulations and the DfE’s standards of Be Lean, Be Clean and Be Green.

The architects have created a place of sanctuary for those with acute needs whilst also responding to comments made during consultation from neighbouring properties to provide a sympathetic building orientation and more sustainable landscape design. Lime Hills Academy will support the local economy and bring new jobs to the area. The site benefits from being adjacent to both Langford and Churchill with facilities designed for community use outside school hours.

Parking and drop-off for the school will be contained within the site and an off-site method of construction will help minimise disruption to neighbours. All vehicular traffic will arrive and depart via Pudding Pie Lane only. The teaching day will also be split between primary and secondary pupils so that trips are spread throughout the day to reduce impact on the local network.

Lis Jolley, Lime Hills Academy Principal said, “In its new purpose-built home, Lime Hills Academy will create an environment, a workforce and a curriculum experience which enables children and young people with social, emotional and mental health difficulties to develop the skills, resilience and self awareness to be successful at first at school and then in later life. “The setting will have a range of carefully designed spaces which will enable group interaction, safe spaces for retreat, those which facilitate academic learning and those which are more therapeutic in nature.

“A key strength of Lime Hills Academy is that it sits within the Cabot Learning Federation (CLF), a mature multi-academy trust achieving above average outcomes for children with below average starting points. With 22 academies and a mission to “consistently deliver excellent educational experiences for pupils aged 3-19, improving their life chances and serving the communities of which we are a member. “As a result of the learning undertaken at Lime Hills, upon graduation children we be able to benefit from and contribute to their immediate community because their education has enabled them to better understand themselves and their connection to the world around them.”

Cllr Catherine Gibbons, Executive Member for Children, Young People, Lifelong learning and Skills at North Somerset Council said, “Lime Hills Academy is currently supporting 22 pupils from their temporary accommodation in Nailsea. We are looking forward to the DfE delivering their permanent site as part of our joint commitment to providing local schools and supporting those with social, emotional and mental health needs. This is part of our strategy to ensure that all children should have the opportunity to attend a good school within North Somerset where they can learn, grow and develop.

“Across North Somerset we are increasing the number of special school places from 368 prior to September 2022 to 498 places by September 2024. We are also looking to create 50 additional places in new Resource Bases and 80 places in Nurture Groups across the district from September 2023 to further meet the needs of our children and young people. Lime Hills Academy will provide around 65 of these additional specialist school place with closer access to high quality specialist education for these pupils and reduced home to school journey times for many.”

For more information about the proposals you can visit or visit the Council planning portal here and look for planning application no 22/P/2920/FUL.

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Lime Hills Academy
Pound Lane
BS48 2NN
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Lime Hills Academy is proud to be part of the Cabot Learning Federation. 
Registered Company: Cabot Learning Federation
Company No: 06207590