Council provides update on 250-place special needs school project after identification of possible site


Proposals for a 250-place specialist school moved forward last week after West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) released more details for the academies that could run it. The new site will be an “integral SEND” school, meaning it will accommodate children of all ages with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Specifically, it will target students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASC), Speech, Language and Communication Disorders (SLCN) and Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD). The former St John’s site in Tiffield has become a possible location for the school and it is hoped that it will see its first admission in September 2024.

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Cllr Fiona Baker, WNC Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, said: “The pressure for SEND places is intense. As things stand, mainstream schools simply don’t have the capacity to accommodate more SEND students, and the county’s private sector has also reached its limits.

“And sending children across county lines is not the best for them and in the longer term it is not financially viable. There is a well-regulated process that we must now follow, but I urge anyone with the skills and experience to study these specifications and step forward to support your community.

The plan for a new special school is just one of two phases of WNC’s SEND sufficiency strategy, which will also see the creation of 259 places in SEND units attached to mainstream schools. There will also be extensions to existing specialist schools located in West Northants.

The release of the proposed new Free Designated Special School specification follows the start of the ‘deemed free school’ process in May during which the council won broad support for the news from the education sector special in the region.

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