Image demonstrating Extra school places for county

Extra school places for county

More school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are urgently being created by the county council.

It follows a large increase in the number of young people in county’s schools who have special educational needs - a rise of 32% between 2013 and 2017.

In total, almost 6,500 children - or 14% of the entire school population - are classified as having a special educational need.

However, there is currently no capacity to accommodate extra pupils within the county’s eight maintained special schools.

At the end of last year a detailed consultation looked at proposed ideas on how to increase school place capacity to meet the demand for children with SEND in specialist and mainstream education.

Now the council’s Cabinet has agreed a number of recommendations, including creating an extra 50 places at The Dales School, through the creation of a satellite site in Ashington, and to publish a statutory proposal to increase capacity by a further 32 places at Hexham Priory School by expanding the school building. Both will come into effect from September 1 this year.

Members also agreed to carrying out a more detailed consultation on options to expand capacity for pupils with SEND, with a focus on all parts of the county.

Councillor Wayne Daley, cabinet member for children's services, said:  “We are committed to giving all children the best possible start in life and to support them to reach their full potential.

“The feedback from our consultation helped us ensure the services and support we provide for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities are of the highest quality and have the maximum impact.

“It’s important we take a pro-active stance. Being able to educate children with special educational needs in or near the communities they live is crucial.”
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