Two new schools could be built in Lincolnshire as part of £50 million plans to increase the number of places for children with special educational needs, it has been confirmed.
Council officers confirmed they had submitted proposals to the Department for Education for a new Free School in Lincoln as part of a five-year plan which will create up to 500 spaces.
They said the hope was that the school – which could cater to 155 places – would help reduce numbers at Lincoln’s St Christopher’s School, which was described as ‘hugely oversubscribed’.
They confirmed the authority could look at another school in the Sleaford and North Kesteven area – however, this will depend on pupil numbers and capacity going forward and has not been fully explored yet.
The plans include alterations to 10 special schools including St Christopher’s School and St Francis School in Lincoln.
The idea for the plan will be to make the schools cater for all schools to meet a “wider range of pupils”.
It will include such changes as increased capacity, relocation and merging of some schools.
Daran Bland, executive headteacher of the Priory and Garth Schools in Spalding and the John Fielding School, in Boston, said schools had been ‘particularly invigorated’ by what’s going on. “There feels to be a real momentum and an exciting time,” he says.
Councillor Sarah Parkin said: “This is so needed. There is such a struggle for families trying to access special schools and many children aren’t able to find a place and are left without an education for even a short period of time and that can be really disruptive for their learning experience.”
“This capacity is really, really needed in the system.”
Following the meeting Mr Bland said: “Having been part of this project from the beginning, the timing of it is right.”
He said he was aware of the pressures local authorities face and the challenge of meeting the demand in places including schools going over-capacity.
“This has truly been a very exciting journey. It has been co-production from day one. There have been many interesting and sometimes quite heated debates… but I’m pleased about that.”
He said the relocation and expansion of the John Fielding School would mean pupils from Boston, who currently have to travel to Priory, would be able to be taught closer to home.
Chairman of the committee councillor Robert Foulkes said he was ‘thrilled’ by the move.
“At the moment our children are criss-crossing the county every day in taxis travelling for hours and hours, going past schools that could look after them and this strategy means we can put those children first and foremost.”
He said travelling time would be dramatically reduced and the changes would allow those youngsters benefits including the socialising with their own age groups.
He said he hoped the new school would ‘allow children in Lincoln with special needs to receive quality education, and to mix with children of their own age group and not have to travel for miles to get the care they need so it’s wonderful news.
The county council’s executive is expected to sign off on the strategy next month.
The plans are estimated to cost the council £50.6 million over the next five years with the final implementation date for the changes set for September 2023.
Demand for places for special educational needs pupils in the region is expected to increase by 6% by 2023.
Council officers said there is a “clear need” to expand existing schools and increase places.
Schools which fall under the plan and their changes are as follows:
- St Lawrence School, Horncastle – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 80 to 150.
- St Bernard’s School, Louth – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 88 to 100.
- The Eresby School, Spilsby – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 64 to 84.
- The Sandon School and Ambergate Sports College, Grantham – combine to one school across two sites, cater for all needs and increase capacity from 152 to 229.
- The Priory School and The Garth School, Spalding – combine to one school across two sites, change cater for all needs and increase capacity from 128 to 177.
- The John Fielding School, Boston – change to cater for all needs, relocate and increase capacity from 56 to 140.
- Gosberton House Academy, Gosberton – change to cater for all needs.
- St Francis School, Lincoln – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 128 to 173.
- St Christopher’s School, Lincoln – change to cater for all needs.
- Willoughby School, Bourne – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 80 to 148.
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