Funding secured for new SEND school in Suffolk

Published

We've secured a bid to the Department for Education for a new free school for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Suffolk County Council has been successful in its bid to the Department for Education for a new free school to create educational provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The new school will offer up to 60 places for children and young people aged between 7 and 16 years old, who have Complex Communication and Interaction needs, including autism.

The school will be co-educational, catering for girls and boys and will offer day facilities only. At present, it is expected that the school will open in 2022.

The next step for the council to undertake is securing a sponsor for the new free school.

Suffolk, like many other local authorities, faces a large increase in demand for placements for a variety of different Special Educational Needs.

Suffolk’s SEND Sufficiency Plan (2018) identified that the number of children and young people with SEND will increase by 18% between 2017 and 2020. This compares to an overall growth in the school age population in Suffolk of 4%.

Greater Ipswich is an area of the county where is it expected to experience a particularly large increase in demand for SEND provision, and this is where the council would like to see a school developed. Currently there is no specialist provision to meet this need within the Greater Ipswich Area, the nearest appropriate school is in Haverhill, over an hour’s travel from Ipswich – and this setting is already oversubscribed.

As well as providing up to 60 places for children and young people with Complex Communication and Interaction needs, there is an expectation that the new free school will provide a pool of professional expertise to support mainstream schools in developing their skills. This is particularly important when considering the management of any transition that a pupil may make back to a mainstream school setting.

Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills, said:

“This is an exciting step forward in our plans to increase educational provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in Suffolk.

“We know that demand for provision is increasing and we need to be able to meet that demand. The Department for Education feels the same way which is why they have agreed to allocate funding to establish a new SEND free school in the Ipswich area.

“The next important step is to secure a suitable sponsor for the prospective free school. We are asking for expressions of interest and hope to be able to announce a sponsor by winter 2019/20.”

Jo Hammond, Co-Chair of Suffolk Parent Carer Network, said:

“It is great news that Suffolk has yet again been successful in the Free-School bidding process, this can only be a positive step towards strengthening Suffolk’s Local Offer for some of our most vulnerable learners.

“We very much welcome all of the conversations and developments that are currently happening around Specialist Education placements and will continue to work alongside the Local Authority on behalf of our families to ensure the needs of our children and young people are met throughout the process.”