Pupils face year-long wait: September opening for a new school in Exeter is delayed until autumn 2024 because of ‘significant’ construction ‘issues’

‘Significant’ construction ‘issues’ have forced a new school built on the outskirts of Exeter to delay opening to pupils for a year.

Devon’s newest state-of-the-art academy school will open its doors in September 2024 after a year’s delay due to construction issues, writes local democracy reporter  Guy Henderson.

The new Matford Brook Academy, serving a massive new housing development in south west Exeter called Haldon Reach, had been due to welcome its first intake of pupils this month, but parents were told in the summer that the big opening would have to be delayed.

Now its first cohort of children is being taught four miles away at a partner school in Pinhoe instead, while work continues on the new building at Matford, where there have been problems with the foundations.

In June parents of children due to start there this month received letters saying ‘significant’ construction issues would not be resolved by the start of term on Wednesday, September 6.

The academy, run by the Ted Wragg Trust, will cater for two-to-16-year-olds, but the first intake this year was only open to nursery, pre-school, reception and year seven pupils.

The letter said: “We had hoped that it might be possible to resolve the issues in time for the start of term, but it is now clear this is not possible.

“This is hugely disappointing and unsettling for all. As a result, Ted Wragg Trust and Devon County Council have been working closely with the Department for Education to develop options to open the school in temporary accommodation for as many pupils as possible for September.”

Testing is under way to assess the extent of the issue with the foundations, and the trust says it is working closely with contractors.

When the project is finished, the school will provide space for 59 nursery places, 630 primary pupils and 750 secondary students and the opportunity for wide community use. It will have extensive sports facilities including 3G all-weather pitches, a 400 metre athletics track and an outdoor learning environment including a woodland area.

A spokesman for the new school said it had welcomed its first cohort of year seven pupils this month, but was using space at St Luke’s CofE School, which is also part of the Ted Wragg Trust.

The spokesman added: “Our motto is that ‘we write our story’ and we are thrilled to be writing our first chapter together! We are based at a temporary, satellite site at St Luke’s CofE school, thanks to the support of the Ted Wragg Trust whilst remedial works are underway for the DfE’s contractors for our permanent site.

“We are open to applications for year seven pupils for September 2024 and will be open to families for the nursery and pre-school and to start the primary school in reception, also for September 2024.”

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