Leicestershire County Council’s ruling cabinet will be asked to give a public consultation around the proposals the go-ahead when it meets next week.
The ambitious plans include expanding existing special schools / units and creating up to 15 new SEND specialist ‘hubs’ – or ‘resourced provisions’ – in mainstream schools.
These are small specialist facilities with specialist staff where children can benefit from smaller teaching groups and extra help, whilst still having access to the mainstream school for certain activities. This can help to give each child a personal timetable that is geared to their learning, emotional and social needs.
In addition, the proposals also include the building of three small schools for pupils with Communication and Interaction needs (particularly Autism Spectrum Disorder) and Social Emotional and Mental Health needs.
If agreed, people will be able to have their say about the development of the provision which will help ensure that a growth in demand for places can be met.
Ivan Ould, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for children and families says: “This is a highly ambitious programme and a significant investment, but we believe it is very much needed.“Children should have the right to access high quality specialist education as close to home as possible, and for some families this currently isn’t the case.
“As it stands, we are expecting a 22% rise in demand for SEND provision in the next five years and we simply don’t have enough local specialist facilities to offer support to our young people.“We have already opened a number of new ASD resourced provisions in mainstream schools over the past few months and they have proven very successful, so part of the proposals include expanding this concept further and ensuring we have more specialist ‘hubs’ in our schools to support local needs.
“We also need to ensure that all of the funds that we have available for SEND pupils are spent in the most appropriate way, such that this makes the best use of the budget, helps to manage future demands on our services and avoids the need for budget overspends.“We believe if we increase local capacity in our own schools we will not only help ease the pressure on our budgets but will also ensure that families can access appropriate high quality education in their communities.“This may help avoid some pupils having to travel a significant distance to an appropriate school and the disruption this can cause to families.
“If the consultation is agreed, we want everyone to use it to let us know about how they consider the new schools and units should look, feel and work alongside other schools in the community, so that pupils with SEND are able to enjoy their time at school and achieve the best outcomes for their education.”
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