County Councillor David Kirk, Executive Member for Childrens Services, formally opened the new Andover Education Centre in Smannell Road.
He said there had been a ten year journey since the Pupil Referral unit had been initially set up in what was Cricklade College, and he had been under constant pressure to find better accommodation for it. He commended the work of the architects who had given the feeling of a new building by their sensitive conversion of what had been Shepherd Spring School and he said it provided a better environment for vulnerable students.
Lesley Cox, the Education Centre Manager, paid tribute to the work of her predecessor Helen Middleton, and welcomed those present to the opening. These included County Councillor Robin Hughes, the architect and contractor, staff members and local teachers.
Steve Cotterell, District Manager for Education and Inclusion (Test Valley), said that the new environment would "allow people to fly" and offer new opportunities to meet needs. He quoted Eric Forth, a former Education Minister who had started Pupil Referral Units, as saying they should be a "revolving door", not a place where people stagnated.
Charlie Currie, Head of Harrow Way School and Chair of North West Hants Education Inclusion Partnership, said that provision had been outstanding before the move and would now be better.
He said permanent exclusion from local schools had now fallen to zero, and further progress would be made by following a policy of inclusion, and by personalising the curriculum for individual students.
After the official opening, guests went round the new building.
"This is a high quality operation, and it was clear to me that the students responded to, and respected, investment in better provision. I enjoyed watching the new mural being installed on one of the outside walls, and hope the students will be able to provide material for the walls and corridors inside."