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(UK) Chelmsford adds 2 special schools; 'significant year on year growth' in demand

Mar 16, 2021, In Your Area: Two new SEND schools proposed for Chelmsford to meet increasing demand https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/two-new-send-schools-proposed-for-chelmsford-to-meet-increasing-demand/ (E. England)

Proposals have been put forward to build two new schools dedicated to teaching and supporting children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)…. Two separate planning applications have been submitted to Chelmsford City Council for the schools, by Net Zero Buildings, on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE). Although both schools would be SEND schools, they would be separate and would cater to children with different needs. Sir Geoff Hurst Academy The proposed Sir Geoff Hurst Academy would be a single storey building, offering 64 places, with provision for Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH). The all-through school would admit children aged seven to 16, and would consist of nine classrooms, with each class being made up of six to eight pupils…. The school would be part of The Beckmead Trust, which currently has nine other “educational settings” in the UK, specialising in support for traumatised young people with social, emotional and mental health issues, autism and challenging behaviour. The Hawthorns School The proposed SEND Hawthorns School would also be a single storey building, providing 70 places, with provision for complex autistic needs. A two-storey residential building is also included in the proposals to provide accommodation for 10 students. The school will cater to children aged seven to 16, and will have a maximum class size of five pupils. In the designs and access statement submitted as part of the planning application, it said: “All pupils at The Hawthorns will be verbal but have language and social interaction difficulties, so providing the means, reasons and opportunities to communicate with underpin the curriculum. … “High level anxiety and reluctance to be near other people and groups of people is an important consideration for the flow of the school…. Both the Sir Geoff Hurst Academy and The Hawthorns School, will have clear boundaries between them. Essex County Council voices support for plans Essex County Council submitted a supporting statement for the proposals. In the statement the council said: “Essex County Council continues to support the development of the Hawthorns and Sir Geoff Hurst special free schools. “The growth of new special school provision is a central pillar of our vision for special educational needs across the county. “There has been a significant year on year growth over the last 10 years in the number of children with an Educational Health Care Plan for special educational needs where autism or social, emotional and mental health is the main category of need. “The growth in diagnosis and identification has meant increasing pressure on existing Essex specialist provision. “The increased numbers of children and young people with autism in Essex schools has placed pressure on resources including access to support, expertise and training and, with greater impact on families, the availability of appropriate school places. “This has led to a continued need for Essex County Council to commission school places from independent special schools as capacity in Essex maintained special schools have been exceeded by demand and need. “Since 2005 ,the number of places commissioned in Essex special schools increased from 2,071 to the current 3,184 (September 2020), an increase of 1,113 places. …