Councillor Louise Farthing, Sunderland City Council's Cabinet Member for Children, Learning and Skills joined representatives from Kier Regional Building North East this week to mark the start of work at Harry Watts Academy in Redhouse, north Sunderland.
The £6.3m school will provide specialist facilities for up to 100 pupils with autism will be complete in early 2021 and is being built on the site of the former Bishop Harland Primary School.
Phil McDowell, Operations Director for Kier Regional Building North East, said: "Breaking ground at the site of the new Harry Watts Academy is the first major milestone in the construction of this project. We are delighted to be working with Sunderland City Council to deliver this much needed specialist facility.
"Kier has a long-held reputation within both the North East and the education sector and has been responsible for the delivery of over £5bn of education facilities in the last decade.
"Most recently, we have successfully delivered four schools projects across the North East region in time for the beginning of the school year and we look forward to marking further milestones as the project at Harry Watts Academy progresses."
Councillor Farthing added: "Demand for school places for children with autism has been rising. These are children with complex, social, behavioural and emotional needs. As there is increasing demand for specialist school places, it is right and correct that they are met locally.
"As a council we are committed to providing the very best education and the very best facilities for all our children. The council has been working in partnership with its children’s company Together for Children (TfC) and has long-term plans to meet all needs. The Harry Watts Academy is part of this plan and the start of work on the building is most welcome."
The school is named after Harry Watts, a Sunderland sailor and dive who saved over 40 people from drowning over the course of his lifetime and assisted in the rescue of over 120 more.