(UK) Liverpool: "More than 4,000 children have [IEPs]...46% increase since 2019"

Nov 14, 2022, Liverpool Echo: Controversial plans to move school children 14 miles across Liverpool to be scrapped

NW England

Controversial plans to move children with special educational needs from one side of Liverpool to the other have been scrapped.

Earlier this year, as part of its proposals to meet the “dramatic increase” in need for school places, Liverpool Council had suggested Bank View School on Long Lane in Fazakerley should relocate 14 miles away to Parklands in Speke. Following a lengthy consultation this summer, the local authority has amended its plans and will now recommend the creation of a satellite site on the Speke grounds when its cabinet meets on Friday. A report in Spring said more than 4,000 children in Liverpool have educational health care plans (EHCPs), an increase of 46% since 2019. The assessment of the consultation said parental feedback was “strongly against moving pupils” from Bank View to Speke “if it meant travelling times would increase.”

It added: “In addition, the majority of new EHCPs are for children with moderate learning difficulties and communication learning difficulties (including autism and social, emotional and mental health). The revised proposal is to open a Bank View South in the Parklands building whilst keeping the current site in Fazakerley.

“This will address the concerns raised by parents and staff regarding travelling and support the emerging needs of children with special educational needs. This option will be a good use of the Parklands building and is likely to require significantly less adaptation than the alternative options.”

The creation of a satellite location in Speke is expected to cost around £2m [$2.4M], funded from the Special Provision Capital grant. The public consultation had also asked for feedback moving Princes School on Selborne Street to Redbridge High School on Long Lane, while Redbridge would move into Bank View as they occupy the same site.

However, with Bank View expected to remain where it is, Redbridge will also not relocate. In order to provide additional places for pupils with severe learning difficulty or profound and multiple learning difficulties it is now being proposed that part of the former Palmerston School in Aigburth should reopen.

The report said the £500,000 [$590K] plan would “help relieve the pressure on Redbridge for places and geographically spread places in the city which helps children to be educated closer to home and reduce transport costs.” Given the “poor state of repair” Princes School is in, and the inability to refurbish while pupils are in, a new school is recommended to be built in its place once a suitable location has been found….

Cllr Tomas Logan, cabinet member for education and skills said: “In Liverpool, there is a pressing need to increase the number of school places for children and young people with SEND and we are reaching a point where we are not able to offer the range of school places that children, young people and their parents deserve….