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Opening of new Newbury school pushed back until next year

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Builders entering administration 'could not have been foreseen' council says

The opening of an urgently-needed new school in Newbury has been pushed back until next year, West Berkshire Council has announced.

Construction company Dawnus had been building Highwood Copse Primary School in the grounds of Newbury College, but entered administration earlier this month.

West Berkshire Council and the Highwood Copse Academy Trust had been searching for a solution on the half-built school, but today said that the opening would be delayed.

The school was scheduled to welcome its first pupils in September but the opening will now be pushed back until September 2020.

Head of education at West Berkshire Council Ian Pearson said: "We have reluctantly conceded, along with the Academy Trust, that the issues with Dawnus will see Highwood Copse delayed for another year.

"However, this is a situation that could not have been foreseen and we must now look forward and take the next steps to ensure that the new school is now ready for 2020.

"We are co-ordinating with the academy trust to ensure pupils and parents are well informed and supported, as they are offered one of their other preferred or local school places."

The council had intended to open the school in September 2018 but postponed the opening until this year following “high increases” in build costs from its then appointed contractor Kier.

The council said that all parents of children who had applied to Highwood had been contacted about the delay and their child will be offered a place in one of their preferred schools, or a school close to them, for September.

Highwood is now planned for completion by Christmas 2019.

Chair of trustees for the academy trust Iain Wolloff said: “We were so disappointed to learn that the problems with the contractor mean that the opening of the new school will be delayed to next year.

"I would like to thank all those who have been working so hard on the preparations for the new school and we now look forward to a really positive start in September 2020.”

For enquiries regarding admissions, contact the West Berkshire School Admissions Team on (01635) 519771 or email admissions@westberks.gov.uk

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