The Valley School in Stevenage moved into its brand new £15.8m building earlier this month.

The special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) school moved its 180 pupils into the new building on Tuesday, January 9 as the new term began.

The original building on the school's site in Broadhall Way was home to Stevenage Girls School when it was constructed in the 1960s, and became a SEND school from 1991.

The Comet: Construction of the new facilities cost £15.8m.Construction of the new facilities cost £15.8m. (Image: Hertfordshire County Council)

It had been coming to the end of its serviceable life, with maintenance costs increasing, and Hertfordshire County Council approved plans to build a new school on the same site in September 2020 as part of their £91m capital investment in special school provision. The council has said it will deliver 1,000 additional special school places in Hertfordshire by 2026.

While the opening date for the new building was pushed back - it was initially hoped that it would be ready as early as autumn 2022 - pupils were able to watch the facilities being built before their eyes during the 16-month construction project.

Byron, a Year 10 student, said on his first morning in the new building: “I’m excited but a bit nervous because it’s all a bit new. The new school is a lot more modern. I am excited because there are lots of changes and things might be easier and better.”

“It was quite exciting seeing the new school come together,” said Bessie, a year 8 student at the school. “I think we’re quite lucky that we get an entire new school!”

David Pearce, headteacher of The Valley School, said: “We’re delighted to finally be teaching in our new school, giving our students the quality of provision they deserve. 


"It is amazing to be able to complement our high-quality teaching with a learning environment that our young people can really enjoy.”

A statement from Hertfordshire County Council explained that the new building also reflects their "commitment to sustainable, responsible growth", with it having net zero carbon emissions, biodiverse green roofs and solar panels. Pupils have even been able to re-use timber offcuts from the construction to build bird boxes and bug hotels for the school site.

While the Valley School received a good Ofsted rating last year, Hertfordshire County Council has been under fire after Ofsted found "widespread and systemic failings" during a recent inspection.

The Comet: Cllr Richard Roberts, leader of the county council, speaks to pupils at The Valley School.Cllr Richard Roberts, leader of the county council, speaks to pupils at The Valley School. (Image: Hertfordshire County Council)

Since then, the council has published its Priority Action and Improvement Plan and committed further funding towards SEND provision. It is expected that the Department for Education will issue the council with a formal improvement notice in the coming days.

Cllr Richard Roberts, leader of the council, toured the new school buildings on Wednesday, January 17, and said: “It was fantastic to be shown round by the pupils, hearing how much they are enjoying the school’s new spaces, and to see them benefitting from our investment.

“This new development at the Valley School is part of the county council’s wider commitment to improving SEND provision and delivering sustainable, responsible growth in Hertfordshire.”