top of page

(UK) Dorset: Special school for 280 opens; part of $46M investment in SPED

May 16, 2022, Planet Radio: Shaftesbury's newest school for pupils with special educational needs opens today

SW England Coombe House School is part of Dorset Council's £37.5 million [$46.3] investment in young people

Coombe House School, Shaftesbury will open for children with special educational needs today. (16 May)

This follows notification of formal registration by the Department for Education after a successful Ofsted visit in March 2022.

Dorset Council made the decision to purchase the school site last year to meet the growing need for more high-quality special education provision. Since then, work has taken place to upgrade the school to meet Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) requirements.

Cllr Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council, said “It is wonderful to see the first children joining the school….

An extensive building and renovation programme has taken place and further work is planned over the next 18 months. This will enable the school to expand to its full capacity of 280 children, alongside the many other uses for the whole Centre of Excellence site.

Cllr Andrew Parry, Portfolio Holder for Children, Education, Skills and Early Help said “I am delighted to see all the hard work that has gone into this project over the last year pay off. We are a further step along the way to providing all the places and spaces that our children with SEND need for their education.”…

Katie Charles, Headteacher said “I could not be happier to see our children and young people joining us, taking their first steps into a fabulous education provision that we believe will help them flourish and find their future paths.”…

Currently, independent provision (sometimes out of county) costs around £60,000 [$47,000] a year per child, whereas high quality provision at one of Dorset’s own special schools costs around £22,000 a year per child. The SEND Capital Strategy aims to increase local provision and reduce some of these costs in the longer term….

• Creation of new special schools with fantastic facilities (including Coombe House School). • Expansion of high-quality provision at Dorset’s existing special schools. This includes the expansion of Beaucroft School which will provide 80 additional places at the former Wimborne Fist School site from this October. Although the project is focused on provision for young people aged 16 years and over, places will be increased across multiple year groups.

• New facilities at existing mainstream schools, such as Inclusion Hubs. The hubs will support children with SEND so that they can access the mainstream classroom, but also allow space to support them when they need more specialist support.

• Developing the capabilities of Dorset’s mainstream schools to support more children and young people with SEND.

Dorset Council


bottom of page