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(UK) Hambleton: "Major expansion" for special school planned; 24% more over next 5 yrs

May 4, 2022, Hambleton Today: Bedale special needs school plans major expansion to meet soaring demand for places http://www.hambletontoday.co.uk/bedale-special-needs-school-plans-major-expansion-to-meet-soaring-demand-for-places/

Central England A school for children with special educational needs (SEN) with a 1,400sq mile catchment area has unveiled a plan for a major expansion to ease classroom pressures as demand for its provision is soaring.

North Yorkshire County Council-run Mowbray School has lodged a planning application with Hambleton District Council to build three classrooms at its Bedale site for pupils aged three to 16.

While the number of children with education health and care plans in the county is set to rise by 24 per cent to 4,225 over the next five years, last week it emerged SEN children are travelling to North Yorkshire from as far as Kent to receive a suitable education for their specific needs.

The number of children and young people identified as having SEN in North Yorkshire has increased sharply since the introduction of reforms in 2014 through the Children and Families Act, partly due to changes in awareness, assessment and diagnostic criteria, and is predicted to continue to do so.

The government announced additional schools funding for supporting children during the autumn budget.

However, headteachers who have seen a rise in number of children with SEN, especially in the early years, have questioned if the additional funding will be sufficient to cope with the rise in demand for SEN classroom places.

It also follows the council announcing in autumn that a school for up to 100 SEN pupils aged from 3 to 19 would be built in Selby.

The planning documents underline the “essential service” for pupils with conditions such as autism and dyspraxia, speech difficulties and moderate learning difficulties provided by Mowbray School across an area more than twice the size of the North York Moors National Park.

The papers state: “Mowbray is close to full capacity, with technology classrooms currently doubling up as teaching space for other subjects. The addition of three purpose-built classrooms would alleviate much of the pressure on the school.

“The Bedale school hosts SEN pupils from the sister site in Ripon on a weekly basis and the intention is to increase the number of permanent pupils at the school in the coming year.”…