(UK) Suffolk to spend $58M (US) on MORE SPED places

Jan 21, 2019, Bury Free Press: £45.1m [$58M US dollars] to create hundreds of special educational needs places in Suffolk Plans have been unveiled to pump up to £45.1million into creating hundreds of special educational needs places in Suffolk in a bid to meet soaring demand. Recommendations from a policy development panel were published on Monday afternoon which propose to create three brand new special schools and 36 specialist units attached to existing mainstream schools, which together will create 828 new specialist education places. The SEND team confirmed that the three new special schools would be on top of existing bids, with proposals for a school on the former Riverwalk site in Bury St Edmunds to be for complex social, emotional and mental health needs. Building on the existing vacant special school in Brooklands Close, would speed up opening and reduce cost. The total cost of these three new special schools is estimated to be £33m, £15m [$19M US dollars] per new school and £3m to refurbish- £91,667[$119K US] per place. … Councillor Gordon Jones, Conservative cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said: “Suffolk County Council has a duty of care to provide a suitable education placement for every child of school age and young people with additional needs up to the age of 25. “It is vital we take swift and effective action to address both the current shortfall of SEND services in our county, but also build capacity with our partners for future demand, and these recommendations do exactly that.” A cabinet report published in September revealed Suffolk was facing an 18 per cent increase in demand for specialist places, and needed an additional 300-400 new places by 2020. The recommendations aim to open the new specialist units for September 2020. Two schools for those with complex communication and interaction needs are also set to be developed – one in Ipswich and one in Lowestoft. A new special school in Ipswich on the former Holywells High School site in Lindbergh Road is already in development, while a bid was submitted in November for an autism specialist school as part of the latest wave of Department for Education special free school applications. … Jo Hammond, co-chairman of Suffolk Parent Carer Network, which works with families needing SEND provision, said: “I think it’s going to make a huge difference. The reality is there isn’t enough provision to meet the needs. … “A complete overhaul of the system is needed: we have to invest in Suffolk and ensure children can access the educational support they desperately need within their own county.”