04 January 2022 – Willmott Dixon has been selected by Devon County Council to deliver a new £10.7 million school for children with special needs in West Devon. 

Located on the Okehampton East Business Park and procured using the SCF Framework, The Promise School will cater for up to 100 primary and secondary pupils who have social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties and are on the autism spectrum.

The school will be run by the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust, which also runs Okehampton, Tavistock and Holsworthy Colleges as well as a number of primary schools in the area, and forms part of a £22 million programme by Devon County Council to provide 300 extra places for vulnerable children with special needs across the county.  The new building is expected to be completed in the spring of 2023 but the school will open to its first pupils in September 2022 using temporary accommodation. 

Devon County Council’s Cabinet member for schools, Andrew Leadbetter, said: “Devon supports a higher-than-average number of children with special needs in our mainstream schools. But some of the most vulnerable children need to be educated in a special school. 



“Our paramount concern is obviously to provide the best possible education and care for them. That’s why we are expanding the number of places we have available for children with special needs so they can be educated close to their homes and communities.” 

Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust Chief Executive, Dan Morrow, said:  

“The new free school will have a positive impact, not just on the learners and young people who access it, but the schools and communities from which they are drawn. We’re excited to get this process underway and continue to expand our family of schools.” 

Rob Woolcock, director at Willmott Dixon said: “Working with Devon County Council, we are delighted to be appointed to this vital project.  We are committed to delivering the highest quality facilities for children with the most complex needs and this new school will enable them to receive support in their development within their local community.  

“We have significant experience in delivering SEMH projects across the region and the construction of The Promise School will provide the pupils with a safe, robust and sustainable environment in which to learn and thrive.” 

The appointment to deliver The Promise School is the latest in Willmott Dixon’s track-record for delivering facilities for children with special educational needs.  The team is on site in Wiltshire, delivering the cutting-edge net-zero £29m SEND campus at Silverwood School.  Furthermore, the company is working in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council as part of their wider £86 million SEND school programme, which is currently being rolled out across the county.