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(UK) Liverpool: Expanding SPED places; 'insufficient places'/'increased demand'

Feb 11, 2022, Liverpool Echo: 'Radical changes' needed as special schools move touted

NW England

Special schools across Liverpool could be relocated owing to a shortage of places for young people with special educational needs. A consultation is to be launched assessing the viability of moving three of the city’s special schools to new locations as part of a special educational needs and disability (SEND) strategy…. Liverpool Council’s cabinet is expected to sign off on the non-statutory consultation when it meets next week. A further consultation will be launched with the leadership at Ernest Cookson School, Hope School, Clifford Holroyde School and Woolton High School regarding future organisation and the delivery of education at these locations for young people with social, emotional, and mental health needs. A report to the council’s cabinet said more than 4,000 children in Liverpool are on an education health and care plan (EHCP) representing an increase of 46 per cent since 2019. It said: “There are insufficient places to manage the increased demand and the population is growing. Radical changes are required to create a sustainable long-term plan with sufficient special school places.” The report said the relocation of the three schools and Key Stage Four site would enable a long-term plan to create additional school places” adding that Liverpool Council currently places children in the independent non-maintained special school sector at “considerable expense” due to the lack of suitable provision and places in the city in the maintained provision. The proposed relocation would “reduce the long-term pressure on the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) High Needs funding” according to the report as “pupil place costs of education children in borough are substantially lower than placing children and young people in the independent sector.” It is estimated that for 2021-2022 Liverpool will spend more than an estimated £10m [$14M] on school places for pupils in the independent sector. The report detailed the cost of individual placements in the non-maintained independent special school sector can vary from between £25,000[$34K] to £100,000 [$136K] per placement for individual children and young people. The findings of the non-statutory consultation will inform the council’s cabinet as to whether it should move towards a statutory discussion on the future of the schools.


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