Unicorn School to double pupil numbers with acquision of former Premier Inn building


The Unicorn School in Abingdon is buying the building of the former Premier Inn hotel and Beefeater restaurant on Marcham Road, Abingdon, from Whitbread PLC, Premier Inn’s parent company.

The purchase will allow The Unicorn School to double its pupil numbers from 120 to 240 over the next few years. The school has specialised in helping children with neurodiversity challenges, including dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism and speech and language issues for over 30 years.

Alexandra Foster, Acting Head Teacher, commented, “This is a huge day for The Unicorn, the location could not be better for us, being opposite our existing building.

“The demand for places has risen dramatically over the past few years and school absence due to anxiety, often related to neurodiversity issues, has risen from 4.7% nationally to 7.5% last year*.

“The small classes, exceptional pastoral care, and one-to-one teaching that our pupils get as part of our curriculum significantly contribute to our children achieving their true potential and often gaining excellent GCSE results.”

The Unicorn currently accepts children aged between 7 and 16 and hopes, with the new building, to offer a 6th-form facility in due course.

Whitbread permanently closed the Premier Inn hotel and Ock Mill Beefeater restaurant on 08 September, the same day it opened a brand new and much larger hotel a few hundred metres away on Marcham Road.

The new Premier Inn hotel offers 86 of Premier Inn’s latest format bedrooms and guest lounges in a highly accessible location adjacent to the A34.

Discover more: Premier Inn, Abingdon

Richard Pearson, Senior Development Manager for Whitbread, said: “Selling the Ock Mill site to the Unicorn School closes a positive story for us in Abingdon.

“Recognising that we outgrew the original site enabled us to deliver a brand-new Premier Inn for our customers in a great location next to the A34, at the same time as creating an opportunity for the Unicorn School to help more young people.

“I wish Alexandra and the team all the very best with their planning application for the site.”

The school has submitted a planning application today for the changes that will be required to change the existing buildings from a hotel and restaurant into a vibrant space for new pupils to The Unicorn School.

The Unicorn will continue to operate from 20 Marcham Road, their existing building, and the intention is that they will operate from both sites in the future.

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