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The Austen Academy Consultation

Catch22 is opening a new SEN school in Basingstoke for children diagnosed with Social Communication Needs. The Austen Academy, part of the Multi Academies Trust, will open in April 2021.

Catch22 Multi Academies Trust is pleased to announce its plans to open a purpose-built school in Basingstoke providing education for children aged 4-16 years with Social Communication Needs (SCN) associated with a diagnosis of Autism.

The Academy will be based at Shakespeare Road, Basingstoke, RG24 9BP in a newly constructed building on the site of the old Chineham Park Primary School.

An illustrated impression of the finished school site


Proposed by Hampshire County Council and sponsored by Catch22 Multi Academies Trust (MAT). The Academy will offer full time education and therapeutic support to 125 pupils who cannot be adequately supported to access education in mainstream schools.

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The building

The proposed school building, which will be two-storey (3027 m²), is comprised of 22 classrooms, seven of which will accommodate primary aged children (age 4 to 11) on the ground floor with 10 accommodating secondary aged (11 to 16 years) children on the first floor. There will be five additional specialist classrooms.

Building work being completed at the Austen Academy, September 2020


Our vision and ethos for the Academy

Catch22 MAT provides young people with a full-time educational offer to enable them to progress and succeed in sustained education or employment. We do this through engaging young people positively with their purpose through learning and supporting future life aspirations. All our learners achieve positive outcomes, thrive and enjoy a quality education that is delivered by skilled, passionate people with high expectations, in a place that is safe, high quality and appropriate.

We believe all children and young people have the capacity to learn regardless of their life situation. It is our role to unlock that learning potential. As well as providing the opportunity for young people to achieve academically, the school will provide personalised therapeutic support enabling children and young people to build the confidence and the emotional resilience they need to manage their everyday lives, and develop the language and communication skills necessary to engage positively in the community and eventually to live an independent life through employment and further education.


Education and curriculum

The Austen Academy will place each learner at the centre of its delivery. It will support each young person’s individual learning needs with a flexible and broad curriculum that meets national standards. There will be personalised academic and therapeutic programmes and the Academy will offer a significant level of specialism in the following ways.

  1. A suitable framework of specific provision and support for our learners: To ensure that the curriculum is delivered appropriately according to the SCN/Autism needs of our learners.
  2. A personalised provision: with a view to supporting as many learners as possible to progress in line with age related expectations and, where appropriate, re-integrate back into mainstream education.
  3. A broad and balanced curriculum: The school will follow the National Curriculum for all age ranges, reflecting our aim to provide a strong focus on academic attainment for all learners.
Outdoor facilities at the Austen Academy during construction, September 2020


The focus will be on the progression each young person makes in terms of managing their behaviour, their academic ability, their ability to engage in the community and eventually their ability to live an independent life through employment and further education.

The Primary Curriculum will provide learners with a solid foundation in literacy, numeracy and other national curriculum subjects, as well as a focus on emotional well-being and social understanding and interaction.

Compulsory subjects at Secondary level are Maths, English, Science, Information and Communications Technology, Personal Social and Health Education, Physical Education and Religious Education.  There will also be opportunities to develop more practical skills in art, music, drama, food technology and design technology. Students will be taught how to manage their anxiety and emotional regulation and develop a better understanding of the world in preparation for adult life. There will be an emphasis on developing skills for employment and students will have the opportunity to study additional vocational subjects depending on interest and ability. Work experience placements and opportunities will be sought for the students as appropriate.


The staff team

Led by the Headteacher Liz Cooper (M. Ed), the academy team will include qualified teaching and learning support staff and advocates who will work with other specialists such as Educational Psychologists, Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs), Speech and language therapists and Occupational Therapists. Together they will work not only with the young people, but their families and agencies too.


Demand for the Academy

Hampshire County Council has identified a shortfall in school places for Specialist Educational Provision across the County.

The local authority has confirmed there is a need for places for 125 full-time learners with complex needs aged 4 to 16 to be supported outside of mainstream education with personalised academic and therapeutic programmes.

The Austen Academy building during construction, September 2020



The Austen Academy will specialise in providing places for learners with Social Communication Needs associated with a diagnosis of Autism identified on an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

There will be places for 125 pupils aged 4 to 16 of all genders who will be offered a full-time place.

For a young person to be admitted, the school must be named, by a local authority, in the child’s Education Health and Care Plan (‘EHCP’). Catch22 will collaborate with the Hampshire County Council’s SEN team to ensure that the school is the right place for the prospective pupil.

Parents wishing their children to benefit from our provision should contact the Hampshire County Council.

A local authority can also refer a child to the school to be assessed for an EHCP plan or following a change in the child’s circumstances for his or her needs to be reassessed. Any assessment should be completed within 20 weeks as set out in the SEND code of practice (2015).

Children being assessed for an EHCP will be dual registered and return, full time, to their mainstream school if the local authority decides not to issue an EHCP.

The Austen Academy is committed to equal opportunities and all pupils will have equal access to the curriculum.

View the Austen Academy Admissions Policy here.


Access and transport plans

Learners may be eligible for free school transport, or if required by their Education and Health Care Plan. Where eligible, Hampshire County Council will arrange transport from their home direct to the Academy. There is on-site car parking with priority given to car sharing. The Academy will have a dedicated drop off zone within its grounds and will support sustainable travel initiatives with staff encouraged to arrive by public transport wherever possible.

Onsite storage facilities will be provided for those staff and learners able to travel by bicycle.

View the Austen Academy Travel Plan.

A view over the Austen Academy’s grounds during construction, September 2020


The consultation

In summer 2018, Hampshire County Council selected Catch22 Multi Academies Trust to be the sponsor of their proposed free school and to proceed to the pre-opening stage. It is our intention to open The Austen Academy in the 2020/21 academic year.

As part of the planning process we have a legal obligation to consult interested parties on whether the Secretary of State should sign a Funding Agreement with Catch22 MAT which will enable The Austen Academy free school to open. The Funding Agreement is a contract that details key aspects of the Trust’s responsibilities and how the school must function, such as how it abides by the Admissions Code and SEN Code of Conduct. It also outlines the circumstances in which the Secretary of State can intervene should the school’s performance be considered unacceptable. A copy of the model funding agreement can be found on our website.

This consultation took place via an online and physical survey, as well as two public forum meetings which were held in October 2020. For those unable to attend the public forum meetings, a copy of the presentation can be found here.

The consultation has now ended. Thank you to everyone who submitted their views. If you have any questions or would like more information about joining the governing body, please contact Janet Bywater, Education Project Manager on