Approval granted for new special education and related services school in former Wokingham digital marketing office

A digital marketing agency’s former Wokingham headquarters is going to be turned into a special needs school.

Private students with special education requirements and/or disabilities can find an appropriate learning environment at The Oddyssey Education Group (SEND).

Plans to transform the one-story office building at Buckhurst Court, located off London Road, into a school have been approved.

Cllr Maria Gee (Liberal Democrats, Wescott) voiced a number of objections to the plan at a planning meeting held by the Wokingham Borough Council on Wednesday, February 8. She urged the committee to vote against the plan.

She claimed that the site was plagued by pollution and poor air quality, that the plan was vague, and that it was unclear how students and teachers would get to the school.

Officers from the council have stated that an evaluation of the air quality and land contamination must take place prior to any construction.
An Oddysey Education Group contract with Brighter Futures for Children, a Reading children’s services provider, was cited as evidence that the school’s majority of students would come from Reading Borough.

“We definitely need SEND places in Wokingham, we are short of them and have a fair number of students here that really need it,” Cllr Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey (Liberal Democrats, Winnersh) said. I’m crossing my fingers that you’ll be welcoming students from Wokingham.

Councilman Stephen Conway of the Liberal Democrats in Twyford brought up the need for special education and related services (SES) school seats in the community.

According to him, “It’s clearly providing a very important need, and the students who attend there will obviously benefit enormously from this opportunity.”

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Councilman Conway agreed with Councilmember Bailey-Biggs that planning conditions could address Councilmember Gee’s concerns.

“We believe that every child should have the best start in life,” Odyssey Education Group CEO and founder Charu Kashyap said, “and we’re committed to making a significant financial investment in creating a warm nurturing and high-quality learning environment.”

With the green light in hand, the interior can be renovated while the only changes to the exterior will be the addition of a playground and its accompanying playground equipment.

There will be a need for 32 teachers to care for up to 50 students, ranging in age from seven to eighteen, at this facility.

Before the school can be used, officials will need to submit a transportation plan to address students’ means of getting there, as well as assessments of the area’s soil and air quality.

To view the accepted application, visit the council’s planning portal and enter the reference number 223023.

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