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Solent Academies Trust


Plans for New Special SEMH Free School

We are delighted that the Secretary of State has appointed Solent Academies Trust to manage a new special free school in Boorley Green, Eastleigh to be funded through Hampshire County Council’s Children’s Services capital programme and designed and delivered by its Property Services team. 

Why is this important to children, young people, parents and carers?

  • There has been a significant increase in EHCP's locally and nationally.
  • They relate to their community and where they live.
  • They can build friendships with people who live close to them that they can enjoy outside of school as well as within it.
  • They spend less time travelling – so have more time to do the things  they enjoy. 
  • There is more choice for families
What is a free school?

A free school is a type of academy that is funded by the Government but not run by the Local Authority.   Free schools are not-for-profit institutions and can be established by various groups including charities, universities, independent schools etc.


More Information


The new £17.9 million school is intended to provide accommodation for up to 125 children aged eight to sixteen with social, emotional and mental health needs and, subject to planning consent, is due to open in summer 2026.


The Government’s current expectation is that every new school will be a free school, known as an academy. This means that once built, the relevant Local Authority transfers the school site and buildings on a lease to an academy sponsor, which will then be responsible for managing the school.


Councillor Steve Forster, Hampshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “Like all Local Authorities, we continue to see significant demand for special school places in Hampshire and as result, a growing use of expensive, independent non-maintained settings. It is vital that we continue to expand special school places across the county not only to help contain these financial pressures but most importantly, to enable more children with special educational needs and disabilities to learn in their local communities and alongside their peers”.


“The plans for a new special free school in Eastleigh are an important part of our wider ongoing investment in specialist education provision and we welcome the appointment of Solent Academies Trust to manage the school. With extensive experience of managing special schools, they are an ideal sponsor and we look forward to working closely with them in the coming months and years as we continue to progress these much-needed plans.”


Commenting on its appointment as the academy sponsor for the planned new special school in Eastleigh, Sharon Burt, Chief Executive Officer of Solent Academies Trust, said: “We are delighted to have approval to lead the new special free school which is greatly needed for pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs to remain educated in local provision. The strong track record and specialist expertise across our trust will enable us to ensure that pupils, families and the wider community benefit from this school providing a centre of excellence in SEMH, and most importantly ensuring that pupils well prepared for life beyond school.


We have already started working closely with the local authority and members of the local community and look forward to providing further updates about our exciting plans through this web page.


Location & Estimated Timeline

Location Map



Approximate Completion Timeline