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(UK) Kent: New 160 place special school; autism, social, emotional, mental health issues

Kent Online: Plans for second Inspire Academy in Cornwallis Avenue, Gillingham, revealed to meet demand for SEN school places

SE England

Plans for a new special needs school which would allow children to be educated where they live have resurfaced.

The Parallel Learning Trust has drawn up proposals to build a second Inspire Academy in Gillingham to increase the number of specialist school places in the area.

Parents have criticised the lack of special educational needs (SEN) school places in Medway with one youngster spending more than 100 days out of education due to a lack of suitable spaces….

The new facility will be able to offer 160 spots to SEN pupils if it goes ahead – more than double the amount offered at the current site in Churchill Avenue, Chatham.

Head of Inspire Academy, Mark Burgiss, said: “We are really excited about the potential of the new build – we will be able to support so many more children and young people who have special needs than we can now, and in purpose-built, state-of-the-art facilities.

“The project and increased capacity will also offer pupils who are currently being educated out of the area – because of the lack of this type of specialist provision here – a chance to return to Medway for their education, benefiting them and their families as well as the local community more widely….

“We will be able to support so many more children and young people who have special needs than we can now...’

“We are extremely grateful to the Department for Education (DfE) and Medway Council for ensuring that this vital project can go ahead.”…

If plans are approved, the building will be split into two to create dedicated areas for pupils with autistic spectrum disorder and those with social, emotional, and mental health needs.

It is expected the project will be complete and in place by September 2025…

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