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(UK) Earley: School to add space for 25 autistic students; 'significant increase' in SPED kids

Aug 16, 2023, Reading Chronicle: Plans for special educational needs centre at Maiden Erlegh

S. England

Plans for a new special educational needs centre at Maiden Erlegh School in Earley have been revealed – as Wokingham Borough Council strives to overcome difficult challenges.

Under the plans, the high school would host room for up to 25 children with autism and social, emotional and mental health needs by September 2025. The council says the new centre is vital for ensuring that it can cope with rising demand on its services.

Carey Tulloch from the council’s children’s services department said the new space would be “critical” to delivering specialist facilities, in a document accompanying the plans. …

Wokingham Borough Council faces major challenges in providing education for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Rising costs and an increase in the number of children needing SEND services have not been covered by schools funding from the government.

This has led to a deficit of almost £10 million [$13M] in the council’s schools budget, and the award of an additional £8 million [$10M] “safety valve” grant from the government earlier this year.

In return for the grant, Wokingham Borough Council agreed to improve its SEND school services. It hopes the new centre will help it do this, while also cutting the costs of currently having to send children to specialist schools that are outside the borough or run privately.

Ms Tulloch said: “Due to the significant increase in SEND population seen in recent years there is not enough specialist local provision to meet need.
“The number of SEND pupils is projected to continue to grow significantly and action needs to be taken to ensure that appropriate provision is available locally.”…


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