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Council publishes ‘specification’ for new special needs school in West Northamptonshire

Proposals for a 250-place special needs school took a step forward this week after West Northants Council (WNC) published more details for academies who might bid to run it.

The new school will be an ‘all-through SEND’ school, meaning it will cater for children of all ages with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Specifically, it will cater for pupils with autistic spectrum condition (ASC), speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), and severe learning difficulties (SLD).

The old St John’s site in Tiffield has emerged as a possible location for the school and it is hoped it will see its first intake in September 2024.

Cllr Fiona Baker, WNC’s Cabinet Member for children, families and education, said: “The pressure for SEND places is intense.

“As they are, mainstream schools simply do not have the capacity to take on more SEND pupils and the private sector in the county has also reached its limit.

“And sending children across county borders is not the best for them and in the longer term, not financially sustainable.

“There’s a well-regulated process which we must now follow, but I would urge anyone with the necessary skills and experience to study these specifications and step forward to support your community.”

The plan for a new special school is just one of two phases within WNC’s SEND sufficiency strategy which will also see the establishment of 259 places within SEND units attached to mainstream schools and extensions to existing special schools located within West Northants.

The publication of the Proposed New Designated Free Special School Specification follows the start of the ‘free school presumption’ process in May 2022 during which the council gained broad support for the new school from the special education sector in the region.

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West Northamptonshire Council Communications Team