Rotherham Council is set to invest a further £1.2 million in creating 111 new Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) places in local schools to help meet increasing demand.
The proposals, which will create extra capacity at ten schools, including primary, secondary, special and post-16, are to be considered by the Council’s Cabinet on 16 September 2019.
This is the second phase of the Council’s SEND Sufficiency programme and is in addition to the 125 new places already being developed across the borough as part of phase one, approved by Cabinet earlier this year.
Some of the new places will be available for children as early as October this year, with most in time for the September 2020 school year and all by September 2021.
The new schemes will help tackle the particular growing need for places within mainstream schools for children with a range of autism spectrum conditions, moderate learning difficulties and social, emotional and mental health difficulties.
In some cases the new investment will be combined with those schemes already being developed to create larger facilities and provide better value for money through economies of scale.
Increasing provision of places in the borough will allow the majority of Rotherham children with special educational needs and disabilities to be educated locally and avoid creating new and more expensive out of area placements.
The proposals follow comprehensive consultation with schools, through the Schools Forum and Rotherham Education Strategic Partnership and with parents through the Rotherham Parent Carers Forum.
Cllr Gordon Watson, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Neighbourhood Working, said: “Rotherham Council is focused on providing every local child with the best possible start in life. This significant, further investment in facilities for children with special educational needs and disabilities is a key part of that commitment.
“During the consultation on these proposals through the Schools Forum, we were struck by the tremendous passion there was for supporting young people with a range of needs. In fact, such was the creative and enthusiastic response we received from schools and post-16 providers, that our initial proposal for an additional 50 places as part of this second phase has been more than doubled.
“As demand for SEND places continues to grow, these new facilities will ensure Rotherham is in the best possible position to provide the high-quality learning environment that our children deserve.”
The shortlisted schemes to be considered by Cabinet are:
Wales High School – Additional capacity within proposed Autism Unit. 10 places in addition to those identified in phase one (operational by September 2020). Capital investment – £200,000.
Milton School – Additional specialist places for children with Autism. 10 places in addition to those identified in phase one (operational by September 2020). Capital investment – £200,000
Brinsworth School – Additional unit for children with Moderate Learning Difficulties, including sixth form provision. 15 places, plus five sixth form (operational by September 2020). Capital investment – £250,000.
Thomas Rotherham College – Unit for post-16 learners with autism. 20 places over two years (2020/2021). Capital investment – £150,000.
Wickersley Partnership Trust – Primary Social, Emotional, Mental Health (SEMH) difficulties unit. 10 places (operational September 2020). Capital investment – £41,000.
James Montgomery Academy Trust – Primary autism unit. 10 places (operational September 2020). Capital investment – £100,000.
Aspire – Primary SEMH provision. 10 places (operational September 2020). Capital investment – £20,000.
Kelford – highly specialist autism provision, 5 places (operational October 2019). Capital investment – £65,000.
Hilltop – highly specialist autism provision, 6 places (operational October 2019). Capital investment – £90,000.
Willow Tree Academy – Primary SEMH ‘turnaround’ unit. 10 places (operational September 2021), Capital investment – £70,000.
Images: Milton School / Facebook