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Six schools to share £5 million as part of our plans to create more special needs school places

Published: 10 July 2024

Six schools are to receive a share of almost £5 million as part of our wider investment to provide additional places for children and young people with special and complex needs across Derbyshire.

The report follows our announcement of a £9.7 million budget in May – a total now increased to £11 million – to increase the number of school places for children with special needs by around 500 as part of our 5-year plan to support vulnerable learners.

As part of that plan, our Cabinet approved at a meeting today (Wednesday 10 July 2024) a recommendation to approve £4,838,000 from its special educational needs and or disabilities (SEND) capital budget to fund the following projects:

  • Alfreton Park School: to provide a 3-classroom modular building and a classroom and vocational learning space to accommodate 10 additional SEND pupils by September 2024, increasing to 45 additional places by September 2025
  • Ashgate Croft School, Chesterfield: to provide a 4-classroom modular building to create additional space for children with special needs
  • Brackenfield SEND School, Long Eaton: to provide suitable additional classroom spaces for 15 children with special needs from September 2024
  • Stanton Vale School: to create a newly refurbished wing creating 22 additional places for special needs children by September 2024, increasing to 35 places by September 2025
  • Stubbin Wood Nursery, Shirebrook: to accommodate 15 additional special needs pupils from September 2024 with permanent accommodation and suitable outside space
  • Swanwick School and Sports College: to expand classroom space to create additional places for pupils with special needs

These areas of need were identified in our SEND sufficiency survey carried out in consultation with schools.

Cabinet Member for Education Councillor Alex Dale said:

“This is just the first round of allocations from our £11 million budget to increase the number of school places for vulnerable young learners with special and complex needs by around 500 as part of our 5-year plan.

“Now it’s been approved by Cabinet we’ll immediately start spending this initial £5 million to create new school places and improve existing provision for children and young people with SEND - particularly those with more complex needs - and for pupils who require alternative provision which will make a significant impact on their early learning.

“Meanwhile, we’re continuing to work closely with mainstream schools to ensure we allocate the remaining funding as soon as we can while also ensuring it’s spent as effectively as possible.

“This is money that can only be spent once so it needs to be based on detailed work to ensure we provide the right sort of places in the right areas to meet the different demands we face.

“This is not easy in a county with a geography like ours and does take time but we’re making good progress and we now have a strong and active education partnership covering the whole county where all schools and academies have been divided up into area-based groups and are working constructively together.

“This means we’re better able to map existing provision and identify where there is a need for expansion and schools will be able to work together to share the benefit of any new investment in their group area.

“We’re committed to giving every Derbyshire child the best possible start in life whatever their challenge or ability and our work to create more special school places where they’re needed across the county forms an important part of that pledge.”

Our £11 million investment in special school places is part of a wider 3-strand project which also includes creating additional places to promote inclusion for children with special needs in mainstream schools, by investing in Enhanced Resource Schools (ERS), SEND units and alternative provision, which is education provided outside a school setting arranged by us or by schools themselves.

By working with maintained and academy special schools to expand places across the county, rather than seeking to build one or two new special schools in specific areas, it is hoped the new places will be better geographically spread and be accessible to as many Derbyshire families with high needs children as possible.

To ensure the SEND funding is used effectively, we have taken a partnership approach with schools to review and improve services, widen partner involvement, provide additional staff training and improve communication.

Read the full Cabinet report.