Schools to open 40 new places for special needs children from January
- Credit: Archant
Up to 40 new places for children with complex needs are set to be on offer at three schools within the next four months following a £2.25m investment.
Sheringham Woodfields School will see 20 new places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) needs thanks to a new £1.4m state-of-the art therapeutic centre building extension.
Redcastle Family School in Thetford and Thetford Academy will both have 10 new places in autism specialist resource base classrooms from January.
It is set to be followed by a further 288 new places, following a further investment of £34m, before the end of the current academic year in July 2021.
And an additional 170 places are planned for the next academic year starting in September 2021.
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Norfolk County Council has made a commitment to invest £120m in creating a total of 500 additional places at a mixture of specialist bases at mainstream schools, special school new builds and expansions of existing special schools.
John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said plans to create new SEND places were on track despite the coronavirus crisis.
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He said: “It is vital that we continue to keep our transformation plans for special educational needs at the forefront and the progress we continue to make is evidence of this.
“In addition to building new specialist provision, we continue to have a focus on effective mainstream inclusion.
“We are working closely with parent carer groups and schools on this.”
Mike Smith-Clare, Labour’s county lead for children and young people, said: “While I welcome any increase in educational opportunities for learners with special educational needs, I’m still left asking the question: why is this seen as being transformative when it should be accepted as the norm? All young people deserve appropriate learning opportunities - this must be the rule rather than a heralded exception.“
The extension at Sheringham Woodfields School will feature a flexible, fully-equipped sensory integration studio and a main hall kitted out with an Olympic-sized, sunken trampoline and other specialist equipment.
It will also include a range of smaller rooms which will be used for one-to-one therapy sessions that are planned to open this term.
These new school places are thanks to the opening of three brand new special schools and 10 new specialist resource bases at mainstream schools.
New building work is set to be completed by January at The Clare School and Harford Manor School in Norwich; Churchill Park School in King’s Lynn; Fred Nicholson in Dereham; and by November 2021 at John Grant School in Caister-on-Sea near Great Yarmouth.
Building improvements are also being considered at Parkside Sixth Form at Norwich; and Sidestrand Hall School near Cromer and at an existing specialist resource base at Neatherd High School in Dereham.
Plans for more SEND places next school year
• 90 new places at specialist resource bases (SRB) in mainstream schools. A new learning and cognition SRB is planned at Hillcrest Primary in Downham Market. SRBs for children with social, emotional and mental health needs at Mundesley Infant and Junior; Arden Grove Infant and Nursery in Hellesdon, Norwich; Wensum Junior School in Norwich; Cavell Primary in Norwich: 10 new places in a social, emotional and mental health at Drake Primary in Thetford; and Caister Infant and Nursery and Caister Junior Schools.
• New special school for boys with social, emotional and mental health needs at the former Alderman Swindell School in Great Yarmouth due to open next autumn to be run by the local Boudica Trust; providing places for up to 88 children and young people aged five to 16 including residential provision for between 30 to 40 children during the school week.
• A new special school for children and young people with autism at the former Fakenham College Sixth Form site to be run by specialist academy trust SENDAT providing 100 new places. Building work due to start by the end of 2020 with the school due to open in January 2022.