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(UK) Lancs: Plans for SPED units in multiple schools; 'demand...continues to increase'

Feb 6, 2024, Lancashire Telegraph: East Lancashire schools expansion plans to be considered

NW England

Several new projects that aim to create different types of more specialist school places in East Lancashire will be reviewed this week as part of ongoing work to boost SEND provision across the county.

On Thursday (February 8), Lancashire County Council's cabinet will be asked to approve the budget for the full feasibility study needed to determine the cost of buildings works required to expand White Ash Special School, Oswaldtwistle.

This also includes looking at whether the Hargreaves House respite building on the same site, which has been closed since 2013, could be used to create more special school places. 

Cabinet will also be asked to approve a feasibility study to create a special education needs and disabilities (SEND) unit at Brunshaw Primary School in Burnley for up to 16 children with social communication and interactions needs.

Both White Ash Special School and Brunshaw Primary School have previously expressed an interest to expand their schools and the feasibility studies, if approved, will determine if these sites are viable.

In December 2023, cabinet approved that feasibility studies could be undertaken to identify additional physical space within schools, colleges or alternative Lancashire County Council buildings, to change the use of these to become satellite provision for the associated special schools in the area.

The former Hendon Brook School site in Nelson and the former Hope High School site in Skelmersdale, which have both been vacant for several years, were identified as potential sites.

On Thursday, cabinet will be asked to approve the initiation of feasibility studies to repurpose both of these sites to boost SEND support in their respective areas.

County Councillor Jayne Rear, cabinet member for education and skills said: "The demand for special needs provision in Lancashire continues to increase and we are working hard to address this.

"At the moment we think we can meet the need by expanding our current schools and are doing the right thing by expanding the schools that we have already.

"These latest proposals will look at the viability of creating additional capacity at a number of our sites and is in addition to wider work to create more special school places for September 2024 and beyond.

"This helps us to keep up with the demand and limit the increase in the use of independent school placements, which present a growing pressure on school funding."


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