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(UK) Hertfordshire parent outcry over new SPED school for 60 kids; "it won't meet demand"

Apr 2, 2019, (UK) Welwyn Harfield Times: Welwyn Garden City’s new special free school ‘won’t meet demand’ with 60-pupil capacity https://www.whtimes.co.uk/news/education/new-special-free-school-to-have-60-pupil-capacity-1-5973110 Many parents have been crying out for the planned new special free school in Welwyn Garden City – but it won’t meet demand, a Welwyn Hatfield mother says. Hertfordshire County Council has confirmed to the WHT that the new school earmarked for WGC will have a capacity of 60 pupils. Co-founder of charity SPACE, Karen Spencer, who has a son with autism, said: “It is nowhere near going to meet demand if there’s only 60 places... but it helps, it’s a start.” Karen – whose charity supports families and young people with autism, ADHD and related conditions – said there are many children with special needs in the borough who are “struggling in mainstream schools at the moment, but have nowhere else to go”. Others have to travel out of the county, including to Cambridge and Berkhamstead, to attend independent specialist schools – with some parents travelling more than four hours each day. Karen said: “(The new school) is really important, we already have a SLD and MLD school in WGC and Hatfield, but the one missing is really for children on the autism spectrum and related conditions that don’t have learning disabilities. “Schools are struggling to cater for demand. The special schools are full already, so (they go to) mainstream schools and children are waiting for places. … “The reality is there is a gap for children who have got a learning disability.” The Department for Education (DfE) last month announced 37 new special free schools would be opened across the UK, including four in the East of England. …