Teacher and student in a SEND school

18 new school places for pupils with SEND

Northumberland County Council has agreed a pilot scheme which will see 18 new places in mainstream schools in the county for students with special educational needs.

The council’s cabinet has approved the establishment of two ‘additionally resourced provisions’ at Seaton Sluice First School and Astley High School.  

This pilot will provide places for children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Social Emotional and Mental Health Needs.

As part of consultation on the council’s SEND strategy in 2018, parents said that they would like school places which provide the additional support their children need nearer to home.

The council received 21 expressions of interest  after a call out to schools across the county to gauge interest in becoming involved in providing for children with additional needs in mainstream schools.

Cath McEvoy-Carr, executive director of adult social care and children’s services at Northumberland County Council said: “We want to encourage inclusivity in our schools and parents have told us that they would like their children with special educational needs to go to schools closer to their home.  This pilot is part of our strategy to achieve this.

“We had an excellent response to our call out to schools to gauge interest in this.  We want to concentrate on a small number of schools in order to test the educational and financial viability of ARPs, and to learn lessons before entering into a wider programme of development across the county.”

Schools in the Seaton Valley have been recognised as having a higher number of students with SEND on roll, and have a good record of meeting the additional needs of these pupils.

The council will invest £253,000 to create eight places at Seaton Sluice First School and ten places at Astley High School, with funding coming from Special Provision Capital grant funding from central government.

It is envisaged the Seaton Sluice First School will be able to accommodate the new facilities required within the existing buildings. At Astley High School additional accommodation will be needed and this will be provided in the form of a modular solution.  

The council is currently developing plans to build two new schools in the Seaton Valley and if this provision is successful, a purpose built facility will be provided as part of the new build schools.

Officers will evaluate the pilot projects to assess their impact and success, and carry out further work with schools to determine the need for additional resources provision across the whole county.

It is expected that pupil admissions at Seaton Sluice and Astley High will begin in the Spring Term of 2020.

The council has recently provided 82 additional places at special schools in Northumberland - at a new base for The Dales school in Ashington and at the Priory School in Hexham.
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