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The Unicorn School, Abingdon has announced that it has exchanged contracts to purchase the former Premier Inn and Ock Mill on Marcham Road, Abingdon.

The purchase from Whitbread PLC, the parent company to Premier Inn, will allow The Unicorn School which has specialised for over 30 years helping children with neuro-diversity challenges, including dyslexia, dyspraxia, and speech and language issues, to double its pupil numbers from 120 to 240 over the next few 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 neuro-diversity 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 contributes to our children achieving their true potential and often gaining excellent GCSE results.”

The Unicorn currently accepts children aged between 7 and 16 and they hope with the new building they will be able to offer a 6th form facility in due course.

Whitbread permanently closed the Premier Inn hotel and Ock Mill Beefeater restaurant on 8th 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 lounge in a highly accessible location adjacent to the A34.

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 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.