Norfolk to get 90 new specialist school places for children with autism
PUBLISHED: 13:44 07 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:46 07 June 2019
Ninety new specialist school places for children with autism will be created in Norfolk's mainstream schools, as council bosses try to improve support for youngsters with special educational needs.
Norfolk County Council is spending £120m to create more than 500 extra school places for children with special needs and disabilities.
Around 21,000 children in Norfolk have special educational needs or disabilities and that number is increasing.
Part of the county council's strategy is to create 10 new specialist resource bases within existing schools to provide up to 170 new spaces.
Primary and secondary schools are being invited to bid to host one of the bases.
John Fisher, cabinet member for children's services at County Hall, said: "Creating this extra capacity will help us deliver our vision to create a county where all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities have the chance to reach their potential and thrive, just like any other youngster.
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"And to also give parents the confidence that their children will have access to good quality education - and as close to where they live as possible, rather than having to travel long distances to go to school."
With the need for places for children with autism particularly pressing, the council wants to create 20 extra secondary places in each of the eastern, western and southern parts of the county.
The council is also looking to create 10 primary places for youngsters with autism in each of the western and southern parts of county, as well as in Breckland.
That is as well as a new 90-place school for autistic children in the north of the county.
Bids are also being sought from schools to create more than 50 new places for children with social, emotional and mental difficulties.
Protesters last month took to the streets of Norwich to call on the government to address the "national crisis" in special educational needs funding.
Parents, carers and children attended last month's march, along with councillors, teachers and other professionals helping children with special educational needs and disabilities.
In March, the government announced four special free schools would be created in the East of England for children with special educational needs.