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(UK) Isle of Wight: Plans for 150 new special ed places in next 2 yrs; $293K cost

Mar 8, 2024, Yahoo News: Council plan to increase special needs provision for Island children 

A former Isle of Wight school building could be brought back into use as part of a plan to increase school places for children with special educational needs.

The Isle of Wight Council has announced ambitious plans, including enlarging St George's School, a special school for 11 to 19-year-olds with complex learning difficulties, by creating a 'satellite' provision at the former Studio School in East Cowes.

Another plan is to double the provision at Greenmount Primary School for autistic children, from six places to 12.

Altogether, the authority's new education access and inclusion director, Naomi Carter said the council is going to increase specialist provision across the Island, with 150 new places created in the next two years.

St George's currently has the capacity for 188 pupils at its base on Watergate Road, Newport, but the authority is proposing to increase its admission number to 208.

It means 20 pupils with autism and social, emotional and mental health conditions would be taught in new facilities at the former Studio School in East Cowes. . . . 

The schemes aim to reduce the amount the council is spending on placements and packages for those children and young people who are currently being educated outside a school setting.

It is part of the council's 'Safety Valve' agreement with the Department for Education which could clear nearly £12.7 million [$16.2M]of education spending debt if the council meets financial targets.

While it would cost an estimated £230,000 [$293K] for the two projects, the council hopes in the long-term it would reduce the cost. . . . .

Ms Carter said: "We need to act quickly. The biggest issue we are going to have is winning the hearts and minds of Island families and parents' confidence in the system.

"We need to have a different, more therapeutic offer which can meet children's needs within a different school environment.

"We haven't got a magic pot of money and we have to be creative with the resources we have but we believe we can do it." . . .



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