MULTI-million pound plans for a new state-of-the-art pupil referral unit in Colchester, one of the first of its kind in Essex, have been approved.

Essex County Council has received planning permission to create the new school, set to be called Walnut Tree School, on land off Walnut Tree Way in Shrub End.

It will cater for about 80 children who are unable to attend mainstream school or are waiting for a place at a special education needs facility.

As well as a new two-storey education block set to be built on site, plans also feature a sports hall and outside games area for children.

The school building will offer 30 places for primary pupils, 20 places for pupils transitioning from primary to secondary education and 30 places for secondary age pupils who are unable to attend school due to illness or anxiety.


There will be 40 car parking spaces for staff and visitors with two disabled bays and two mini bus spaces also created on site.

With planning permission now approved, the school could be complete and ready to welcome its first students by November 2022.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: "We aim to provide the best possible educational opportunities for all children.

"We’ve recently been working to improve our Alternative Provision schools, and Walnut Tree School is an important part of that improvement.

“This work also supports the council’s vision of providing the best possible educational opportunities for all children close to their communities.

“Demand for Alternative Provision places is rising in the county and this will help us deal with the increase.

"It also will allow more pupils to be taught in groups in school.”

Gazette: Design - Walnut Tree School will have 80 places

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The existing pupil referral unit in Colchester is the North East Essex Cooperative Academy, located in Turner Road.

Children are referred to a pupil referral unit if they need more care and support than that available in mainstream education.