VIP’s cut the ribbon on Eastbourne’s new SEND school


Morgan Sindall Construction’s Southern Home Counties business celebrated the completion of Eastbourne’s new special educational needs (SEN) school, Summerdown, with an opening ceremony on the 22nd of November. 


Procured through the Department for Education (DfE) framework, the event marked the final milestone of the new multi-faceted building which has been built for the Department of Education on behalf of East Sussex County Council (ESCC).  


Several key stakeholders from Morgan Sindall Construction, ESCC and local government officials were in attendance, including Morgan Sindall Construction’s Southern Home Counties team, Eastbourne’s MP Caroline Ansell; the Lead Member for Education and Inclusion, Special Education Needs and Disability, Councillor Bob Stanley; Steven Hyland from the Department of Education; and Summerdown’s Headteacher, Penny Kershaw. 


As part of Morgan Sindall Construction’s commitment to Intelligent Solutions, the new school includes a host of bespoke and specialist equipment, including a hydrotherapy pool, sensory rooms, food technology and state-of-the-art science laboratories as well as landscaped gardens to provide an enriching outdoor environment.  


The school will create 135 much-needed local school places for children aged 5-16 with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), complex learning needs and medical difficulties.  


During construction, Morgan Sindall Construction worked with the Eastbourne community as part of its commitment to delivering social value where it is most needed in the areas it operates in. Eastbourne Investment Group ensured minimal disruptions to the local area, as well as minimising the project’s carbon footprint by utilising modern methods of construction.  


Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, said: “Five years ago, hope was planted for a purpose-built special school in Eastbourne and here we are today standing in this stunning new facility. I know first hand how special schools such as this can and will change the lives of children and their families. This is an important investment by the government in education in Eastbourne and I congratulate all involved in bringing this wonderful new school to fruition.” 

Councillor Bob Stanley, Lead Member for Education and Inclusion, Special Education Needs and Disability at East Sussex County Council, said: “These magnificent facilities give confidence to parents that we are investing in their children to fulfil and explore their potential.” 


Nick Beaumont, Morgan Sindall Construction’s Project Manager for Summerdown School, said: “I’ve thought about this day for a long time, and I can honestly say we as a team have put our heart and soul into delivering it. This is a long awaited and much needed, vital resource to the Eastbourne community. We saw the children on the very first day they entered the school and to see their beaming faces, you can’t ask for a better reward. Going forward, this must be the norm for SEND provision. 


Penny Kershaw, Principal Designate at Summerdown School, said: “It is an absolute privilege and a pleasure to be Principal Designate here at Summerdown and to celebrate the opening of this fantastic new school. Everyone has gone above and beyond to ensure the successful delivery of the project; it’s an incredible responsibility to know how much schools such as Summerdown can change the lives of both children who attend and their families alike. Thank you to the Department for Education for providing support and funding.  


“To Morgan Sindall Construction, what an amazing experience; the professionalism, enthusiasm and commitment of the whole team has been evident from day one. This wasn’t just perfect delivery, this was an uber perfect delivery!” 


Margaret Neal, Chair of Trustees at Southfield Academy Trust, said: “There has been a vital need for a purpose built SEN School in this area for some time and to have achieved this whilst battling lockdowns, Brexit and all manner of other obstacles is quite some achievement. This magnificent bespoke learning resource is state-of-the-art and finished to the highest standards. I can’t fault the Morgan Sindall Construction team and their ability to interact with both the children and the school community as a whole.”