top of page

(UK) Tiffield: $27M for 250 place autism school; 'huge demand'

Sept 16, 2022, Northampton Chronicle: 250-student special needs school between Towcester and Northampton will cost around £23million [$27M] to build, says council

E. Midlands

A brand new 250-student special school between Northampton and Towcester is expected to cost around £23 million to build, according to West Northamptonshire Council (WNC).

Plans to build a new special needs in Tiffield were discussed at a WNC cabinet meeting on Tuesday (September 13).

The new school will be an “all-through special educational needs and disability” school, meaning it will cater for children of all ages — specifically those with autistic spectrum condition, speech, language and communication needs and severe learning difficulties….
Councillor Fiona Baker, cabinet member for education on the Tory-run council, said there is a “huge demand” for special school places in west Northamptonshire.

She said at cabinet: "The council is working with local and national education and special educational needs and disability (SEND) leaders to develop a number of expansions to meet the growing need.

"A major strand of this work is commissioning the new 250-place special school in Tiffield….

Documents also say it has been agreed in principle to borrow up to £10 million to make up the shortfall for the cost of building the new school. The remaining cost of the build will be met through capital grant funding received by the council.

It was also said that the new school will “reduce pressure” on the high needs block element of the dedicated schools grant via a reduction in the number of children being required to be placed in out of county and independent provisions to meet their individual needs.

A post-cabinet report said: "The average cost of an independent placement is £61,000 whilst the average cost at a non-independent school is £25,000 – a reduction on average of £36,000 per place.

"Based on previous placements, around 50 per cent of the expected new school intake, would have been placed at an independent placement due to the lack of state-sector funded special schools or resourced provisions.

"Placements at the new school will result in approximate net cost avoidance of £4million once the school is full. A reduction in spend against the revenue general fund is also expected to be secured through reduced home to school transport costs as a result of fewer further away placements being made."


Concerns were raised in a statement by West Northants SEND Action Group, which was read out at cabinet.

A SEND action group spokesperson said: "Our concern is that many of the autistic children who are in independent out of county schools are those who cannot cope in a mainstream environment but do not have significant learning difficulties or speech delays.

"While more places of this type are sorely needed it is unlikely to provide a viable alternative to many of the children who are currently in independent schools.

"There is a huge gap in provision in this county for children who are connectively able but need an alternative to a mainstream environment."

The group said they would like to see children with autism spectrum disorder needs “carefully considered” because these children are “frequently ending up out of education altogether”.


bottom of page