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(UK) Enfield: Sites for 2 new special schools chosen; 'huge demand' on 'high needs' element

Nov 3, 2022, Enfield Dispatch: Two sites earmarked for new special needs schools

N. London

Two sites in Enfield have been identified to provide 136 extra school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send).

Portcullis Lodge Car Park in Enfield Town and Addison House in Southgate have been classed as ‘priority sites’ to help meet the growing demand for Send provision, with the cost of developing the sites expected to run to £26million [$29.4M].

A report presented to Enfield Council’s children, young people and education scrutiny panel on Wednesday revealed the number of pupils with an education, health and care plan – which provide extra support for Send pupils – is expected to grow by 10% over three years.

The report adds that 468 young people with Send are being educated in other boroughs, costing the council around £14,000 [$15.8K] extra per pupil compared with in-borough schooling. This can lead to young people being separated from their communities and experiencing longer journey times, along with added costs for travel assistance.

Last year, cabinet reports stated that there had been a “significant increase” in Send provision during recent years, with the civic centre putting in extra resources and commissioning designated units within mainstream schools. But because of a “limited capacity” to extend existing schools, the council had decided to establish new facilities.

Neil Best, the council’s head of strategic resourcing and partnerships, told Wednesday’s meeting the council had “almost maxed out” in terms of availability of large Send schools in the borough. He added there was “huge demand” on the ‘high needs’ element of the dedicated schools grant – provided by the government to support schools – and it was currently £13m [$14.7M] in deficit.

The council has applied to the Department for Education to have the two priority sites included in its ‘free school wave’, which would see the government provide funding if the projects are delivered in partnership with free school providers. Neil said the council would find out next April if it had been successful….

Officers also told the meeting that falling pupil numbers at some existing schools could provide an opportunity to increase Send provision on those sites.


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