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Nottinghamshire County Council welcomes Department for Education announcement for a new SEND free school

The county is to benefit from a new special free school as part of an initiative announced by the Department for Education.

Nottinghamshire County Council has welcomed the news of the school, which is set to provide specialist support for 160 pupils, aged four to 19.

Sam Smith, cabinet member for education and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), said: “This is such positive news and very welcomed for the families of children with SEND in Nottinghamshire.”

Sam Smith, cabinet member for education and SEND.
Sam Smith, cabinet member for education and SEND.

The Department for Education will fund and build the school, directly supporting Nottinghamshire County Council’s target to create 490 additional SEND school and alternative provision places by 2026, to address the growing demand for more specialist school places across the county.

The county council has been experiencing an increase in requests for education, health and care plans (EHCP), some of which identify the need for specialist school places.

One of the council’s key priorities and commitments is to develop additional local special school capacity over the next three years, to ensure that children and young people with SEND can access learning within their own community.

From 2021 to 2023, the council has delivered an additional 97 specialist educational places, with an investment of more than £5million.

The council is currently working in partnership with:

•Team Education Trust and Greenwood Academy Trust to open a satellite special school on the site of Brunts Academy in Mansfield to secure up to 24 places for autumn 2024

•Nexus Academy Trust to expand Fountaindale School

•St Giles Special School to create additional places for autumn 2024

•Other trusts to develop increased capacity in the south and the far north of the county.

The council has also contributed in excess of £2.5 million to the rebuild of Yeoman Park Academy in Mansfield and is building a new £20m special school in the Mansfield area.

Mr Smith added: “When appointed to this role in late 2023 I made a commitment to children and young people with SEND, and their families, to do everything possible to ensure that they were able to receive the support they required in a mainstream setting or, where necessary, in a specialist setting as close to their home as possible.

“This new school will offer 160 places for children with SEND and I now look forward to discussions with the Department for Education getting underway as soon possible.”

Ben Bradley MP, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Supporting families and children with special education needs remains a huge priority for us as a council. We have recently implemented an improvement plan to enhance our services, this includes expanding SEND school places, such as the new school in Ravensdale, Mansfield.

“We are delighted that our bid to Government for another SEND school has been approved. These specialist placements greatly benefit children and families throughout Nottinghamshire.”

The announcement comes just a few weeks after an extra £16m funding from the Department for Education for SEND places and alternative provision in Nottinghamshire was confirmed.

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