'State-of-the-art' school for special needs students in Portsmouth completed

The former Harbour School in Fratton, which is now being used as The Lantern
The former Harbour School in Fratton, which is now being used as The Lantern
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A NEW 'state-of-the-art' school for the city's 'most vulnerable children' is now open following the £1m refurbishment of a disused building.

The Lantern, located in ground floor of the former Harbour School in Fratton, will provide a specialist space and facilities for 14 young people with significant physical and mental disabilities.

Work on the site was fast-tracked by Portsmouth City Council to ensure it would be ready for the new school term and was completed in 66 days.

For Councillor Suzy Horton, the council's education boss, the result was 'incredible.' She said: 'Planning for special needs school places in the city is one of the most important and challenging areas we face at Portsmouth City Council.

'Following investment in The Lantern the transformation inside the building has been incredible with the new facilities now meeting the complex needs of some of the most vulnerable children in the city.'

The new space has been split into two main areas with the first comprising of a specialist classroom, a sensory suite, a group teaching room, a multi-functional practical space and toilet facilities.

The second area provides one-to-one spaces, a common room, laundry rooms and a second sensory space for older children.

Cllr Darren Sanders added: 'This new state-of-the-art school will make a difference to the lives of many young people with complex needs as well as their families.

'I am hugely impressed at the range of facilities now available. It should not be understated how professional the new space looks especially given the tight delivery deadline.'

Cash for the project was approved during a council meeting in July this year despite concerns from some councillors about the predicted cost of £1,020,000 of which half would come from a government grant.

The council could not confirm if this was the final cost.

Other options were considered including placing the pupils in independent settings, however, this was estimated to cost £1.5m for eight pupils over three years.

The new school is part of the Solent Academies Trust and serves as an extension to the Mary Rose Academy in Southsea.