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(UK) Isle of Wight: SPED numbers double in 9 yrs; new autism school delayed

Mar 19, 2024, Yahoo News: Delay for Island's new special free school

Isle of Wight

The launch of a new special free school on the Isle of Wight has been delayed indefinitely as there is a struggle to find someone to run it.

More than a year ago, parents, carers and pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) were given the good news the Isle of Wight would be getting a new specialist school.

It was planned to open, next to Carisbrooke College, in time for September 2025 and would gradually provide places for 75 children, aged nine to 16 with autism or social, emotional and mental health conditions.

There has been an 'at least year delay', however, the Isle of Wight Council has confirmed, as no one has come forward to run it.

Speaking at a meeting earlier this month, Naomi Carter, the council's new education access and inclusion director, said any new school now has to be an academy, but the problem was no sponsor was willing to come to the Island.

An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson has said although the initial timeline has been affected, it was actively exploring alternative solutions to ensure the successful establishment of the new SEND free school. . . .

"While we cannot provide an exact opening date, we assure the community that we are expediting the process."

The council said it is in regular discussions with the Department for Education — which is the authority responsible for making the decisions regarding academy sponsors and most of the free school process.

Updates will be shared with parents, educators and the public as the council makes progress, it confirmed.

As the search to find an academy sponsor continues, the authority is looking to expand the current SEND provision on the Island, by increasing places in special schools.

The two specialist schools on the Island are currently full, the council said, and the number of pupils needing education, health and care plans has more than doubled in the last nine years.

The specialist school would 'significantly increase' the availability of 'much-needed places', which currently results in the need to send young people off the Island, the council said.


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