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(UK) Biggleswade: "Huge demand" for 150 place special school

Oct 27, 2022, Bedfordshire Live: New specialist school in Biggleswade hinges on site plan despite huge demand

Central England

The potential success of a funding bid for a specialist free school in Biggleswade could depend on it having a clearly defined site, a meeting heard. The application being submitted is for a social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH) school of 150 places in Biggleswade, Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive was told.
Demand for specialist school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) locally has risen significantly during the last three years, according to a report to the committee. The Central Bedfordshire specialist school place plan outlines the local authority’s approach based on the forecast and feedback received as part of the 2021 consultation from a wide group of stakeholders, including parents and carers, said the report….

Independent Aspley Guise and Woburn councillor John Baker asked why Biggleswade was chosen for the new free school, despite potential demand for such a facility more centrally within the district. Independent Biggleswade South councillor Hayley Whitaker raised doubts whether the needs of parents of children with autism are being met, asking: “What are we doing in this programme to address that growing need?”

Executive member for families, education and children councillor Clark replied: “Biggleswade and the free school bid, it’s a competitive process. There’ll be 65 schools which will be successful and there are 152 councils. We’re keen to succeed. One of the key criteria is to show there’s a deliverable site. Having a location with planning permission for a school is evidence of that.


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