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(UK) W. Northants: ASD 'biggest drivers of future demand for specialist places'

Jan 25, 2023, Northampton Chronicle and Echo: Plans unveiled to build much-needed SEND school for additional 50 students in Northampton
WNC says “action is required” to address the wider shortage of specialist places within West Northants
Plans have been unveiled to build a brand new school for an additional 50 special educational needs (SEN) children in Northampton….
Planning papers say the school will cater for an extra 50 children with significant difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The school already has a unit that caters for 20 pupils….
"The biggest individual drivers of the increased demand for places within a specialist setting are primary aged pupils with a primary need of autistic spectrum condition (ASC) and secondary aged students with a primary need of social, emotional and mental health (SEMH)."…

A WNC spokesman said: "There is current demand for specialist places. All current specialist provisions located within West Northamptonshire have reached or exceeded their notional capacity figures."

The council says the effects of the high demand for places and lack of capacity means there is “a clear and immediate risk that it will be “unable to fulfil its statutory obligations” of providing enough SEN spaces.

Other knock on effects of the current situation, according to WNC, have seen pupils forced to attend schools that are “not best placed to meet their individual needs” (such as a mainstream school).

As of January 2020, WNC says it has been required to place 174 SEN pupils in an independent specialist setting, costing £9.188m [$11.3M] annually at an average cost of £56,778 [$70.4K] per place.

WNC predicts that the total number of students in receipt of an education, health and care (EHC) plan will increase by 521 pupils (25 percent) from 2,126 to 2,647 in the period between January 2020 and 2025.
The number of pupils receiving an EHC plan with a primary need of ASC is predicted to increase from 756 to 1055 pupils (299 pupils or 40 percent) in the same period, according to WNC.
"Pupils with a primary need of ASC will be the biggest drivers of future demand for specialist places in the period ending January 2025," the WNC spokesman added.

The expansion of special needs provision at Hunsbury Primary is phase one of the council’s longer-term plan to create 500 new special needs places across West Northamptonshire, including a 250-place new school between Northampton and Towcester.


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