WORK has finally started on a new £15million school in Pensnett for children with complex needs.

Pens Meadow School is to be completely rebuilt on the former Pensnett High School site.

Heavy machinery has moved onto the site and contractors Interclass PLC have started clearing the land to make way for the new state-of-the art building – just a week after it was revealed how run-down and unsuitable the current special school is.

Last week, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported on the shabby and overcrowded conditions that teachers are having to contend with at the Ridge Hill site and how desperate they are to have a better environment for the challenged pupils that attend the school.

With work now beginning at the new site, however, staff can start to look forward to a brighter future for their pupils who have complex and profound learning difficulties including autism.

Marie Hunter, headteacher at Pens Meadow School, welcomed the news that work has got underway at the new school site off Tiled House Lane and she said: “This is something we really need and I am delighted to see the work starting on site. When complete, the school community will have a facility they can all really be proud of.”

Once built, the new school will provide education for 155 children and young people, aged between three and 19, together with a nursery assessment unit for the borough.

The purpose-built building will have therapy rooms, a hydrotherapy pool, changing facilities, outdoor teaching and play areas and 14 larger classrooms where the layouts can be changed for children with additional needs.

There will also be a food technology room with independent living space to prepare pupils for adult life. A rebound room with a large trampoline sunk into the floor will promote exercise and help pupils develop motor skills.

There will also be a focus on sustainability within the design, with plans for PV panels to turn sunlight into electricity and air source heat pumps to help heat the school.

Des O’Neill, managing director of Interclass PLC contractors, said his team has “really hit the ground running” to get the build going and he added: “I’m delighted to see so much progress on-site already. With work progressing apace, we are very much on track to deliver this important project for the local community.

“The new learning facility will be fully equipped with the latest technology to accommodate a range of educational needs, and we are immensely proud to create an environment where children can thrive and reach their full potential. I’m looking forward to seeing it take shape over the coming months.”

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said there’s been “a lot of hard work” to get to this point and he added: “I am delighted to see that coming to fruition with activity on site.

“We have been championing the drive for better facilities for our children and I am pleased to say that is paying off.”

Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2025 and there'll be a phased transition for some of the pupils to the new site starting autumn 2025, with the school set to be fully operational by January 2026.