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Orion Academy

Morgan Sindall Construction improves SEN offering in Oxfordshire with the delivery of a new academy


Morgan Sindall Construction has completed work at the new £12m Orion Academy on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council.

The 104-place school is one of six SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) schools in Oxfordshire operated by The Gallery Trust, a special multi-academy trust based in Oxford.

The tier one contractor was instructed after the previous school, built in the 1950s, was deemed no longer fit for purpose. The new academy, built on the outskirts of Oxford, offers increased capacity and improved learning facilities and support for pupils.

Originally an all-boys school, Orion Academy is now open to girls and includes a sixth form. The new building comprises 14 general classrooms as well as specialist rooms for science, art, music and design as well as a dedicated space for life skills where pupils can practice domestic tasks to prepare them for independence once they leave education.

A space has been constructed in the middle of the school called The Bridge which acts as a therapeutic base and social area and can be configured to accommodate both group and individual work.

The one-storey 2,700 square metre facility was delivered in tandem build to avoid disruption to pupils’ education, with teaching taking place in the existing building whilst the new school was constructed on an adjacent plot.

As part of its commitment to encourage young people into the industry, the main contractor was joined on site by six apprentices and two work experience and student placements.

Pupils also revelled in the chance to help with the construction of their new school through bricklaying and plumbing opportunities and those involved were able to leave their permanent mark by signing some of the building’s bricks.

The building features solar panels to supply energy to the school whilst wind catchers are used for ventilation and to reduce the need for air conditioning. Ambient lighting has also been installed which works off brightness levels outside, only turning on when necessary.

James York, area director at Morgan Sindall Construction, said: “We are very pleased to handover this project which will enhance the council’s SEN offering and provide an improved place of education for staff, parents and children.

“We communicated with stakeholders throughout the building of the new academy to ensure they felt properly supported and involved. We were able to engage with the next generation through our fantastic supply chain who involved pupils in the construction of their school. We also held classroom and safety talks and it was great to see interest in the academy.

“It was a proud moment for us to handover the keys to this facility which we hope will inspire and support all who attend.”

Pupils have now transferred into the new building, with the old structure set to be demolished. Work now begins on outdoor facilities, which includes a new sports hall and three multi-use sports pitches due in Easter 2022.

The school was delivered through the Department for Education construction framework.

  • For more information about this news release please contact Alice Lee at Influential on 07450 562 743 or email [email protected]
sports hall
Sports hall at Orion Academy