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(UK) Halifax: $26M for special school for "COMPLEX NEEDS"

Mar 13, 2024, Halifax Courier: Calderdale school places: New school in North Halifax to increase specialist school places for Calderdale children with complex needs

Senior councillors have agreed to increase the number of school places for primary and secondary school-aged children by developing a new specialist school in North Halifax.

NW England

Calderdale Council’s cabinet members’ decision will also see dedicated provision for pupils who have social, emotional and mental health issues (SEMH).

The council will use £21m [$26M]  from the Department of Education to create a new school for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in North Halifax.

It will see council land used for an additional campus for Ravenscliffe, maintaining Ravescliffe’s Skircoat Green site but releasing its Spring Hall campus for SEMH pupils. . . .

It means the £7m [$8.8M] to £10m [$13M] remaining can be used to expand primary special school places at Woodbank School and Highbury School.

The options chosen boil down to getting maximum use for the most number of children with the finances that are available, said cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services, Coun Adam Wilkinson.

The other option would have been to relocate Ravenscliffe School’s Skircoat Green site to North Halifax, with the school keeping the Spring Hall site and the Skircoat Green site being used for SEMH students. . . . 

The rejected option would leave no funding to address a shortage of places for primary or SEMH pupils, he added.

The chosen plan will also “allow us to educate children with additional needs in Calderdale and stop sending them to out-of-borough placements,” he said.

 “This would reduce the long travel times for our children and would significantly reduce pressures on the high needs funding block, which is currently overspending by nearly £6m [$7.6M], and also the pressures on the special education needs transport budget.”

In the meeting’s public questions segment, Gareth Hunter referenced Ravenscliffe’s concerns, saying there was not enough detail gone into in the briefing papers about the “sheer scale” of funds generated towards Ravenscliffe’s Spring Hall project.

“You’ll be aware of the huge fundraising campaign that was undertaken by the school and its charitable arm of Friends of Ravenscliffe between 2011 and 2018 which generated in excess of £1.2m [$1.5M],” he said.

Along with £400,000 from the school, this £1.6m [$2M] contribution supplemented the £1.8m [$2.3M] capital funding available to the council to construct and equip Spring Hall as its stands today.

“The charitable funds were given expressly by the school friends to provide for Ravenscliffe students, not the local authority as a whole,” he said.

Coun Wilkinson said while the council completely understood the school’s position in relation to Spring Hall, there was no reason to think that Sport England – the source of some of the funding – would want to recall that cash.

“We have made it clear that we would wish to replicate as far as possible the facilities currently offered at the Spring Hall site.

“There is no reason that this provision cannot continue to be accessed by those for whom it was intended,” he said.


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