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Almost 100 children in Norfolk waiting for a school place - and the majority have complex needs

PUBLISHED: 11:03 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:03 15 February 2019

Almost 100 children are waiting for a school place in Norfolk, new figures show. Photo credit: David Jones/PA Wire

Almost 100 children are waiting for a school place in Norfolk, new figures show. Photo credit: David Jones/PA Wire

Archant

Almost 100 children in Norfolk are currently out of school waiting for a place to become available.

Figures from Norfolk County Council show that, as of last month, 92 children did not have any educational provision.

Of these, 50 are recognised as having special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) while 30 have an education health and care plan (EHCP) or its precursor, a statement of special educational need.

But the council said many of these children were only experiencing “short term delays” in school placements.

The authority said some children on the list were awaiting provision from the Short Stay School for Norfolk, managed by the Engage Trust.

In 2017 a new package of support was announced for schools in Norfolk to help combat a soaring number of permanent exclusions, which had led places at the Short Stay School – Norfolk County Council’s preferred educational provider for excluded children – to become hugely oversubscribed.

The Engage Trust was approached for comment.

The crisis in special needs education provision in Norfolk extends beyond pupils who are waiting for school places.

In December 2018 the county council said around 150 children with SEN were in mainstream schools in Norfolk waiting for a special school place to become available.

A shortage of special school places in the county had been blamed for some delays.

In response to the new figures, a Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “Delays to education provision can be due to a range of factors such as exclusion or having recently moved to the county.

“To tackle this, we are investing in three new special schools, 170 more specialist resource base placements and working with school leaders to ensure that they can meet their pupils’ needs locally and with earlier support.

“One of the new special three schools will be for pupils with social emotional and mental health difficulties and many of the SRB places will also be for this children.”

The Wherry School is currently the only state school in Norfolk which provides places especially for children with these difficulties. It has around 60 places and has faced unprecedented demand since opening in September 2017.

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