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(UK) Wokingham to spend more than $5M (US) on SPED school

Feb 7, 2019, In Your Area: School’s £4.4m expansion to create more special needs places in Wokingham https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/schools-4-4m-expansion-to-create-more-special-needs-places-in-wokingham/ More than £4million [$5M US dollars] will be spent on expanding a special school in Woodley to ensure more children from around Wokingham can be educated in the borough. Wokingham Borough Council has given approval to spending £4.4million on expanding Addington School in Woodlands Avenue. The school currently has 206 pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and has been graded Outstanding by Ofsted. However, there are around 130 (40 per cent) SEND children in Wokingham who currently go to school in other areas like Reading, Berkshire. Mum desperate to get her disabled son into a school in Reading The council says the placements, and the travel costs, are "disproportionately expensive" as well as being very disruptive to the children. … The application was approved at a meeting of the council's Executive on Thursday, January 31, where Councillor Anthony Pollock, executive member of finance, said the situation "stuffs us". He said: "The fact we are selling our places to other local authorities is awful. "Other people are piggybacking off the back of it. "I urge us to speak to those who can change this situation. "It is fine if we invest and it improves us but not when it stuffs us." Reading home for children with learning difficulties rated Outstanding The council spends £18million [$23M US dollars] a year on supporting children with SEN in Wokingham. The lack of local spaces combined with high costs for transporting children with SEN to other schools outside the borough means the authority anticipates a £2.3m [$3M US] deficit in this area for the 2018/2019 financial year. In addition to the investment in Addington School, the committee also approved proposals to develop another special free school in the borough for children with autism and social emotional and mental health difficulties. … The authority anticipates another 125 places will be needed for SEN children by 2023 after a surge in the 0-25 population in the coming years. This means the number of children at special schools would increase from 339 to 464 in the next four years. "We send far too many of our children out of the borough to expensive special schools elsewhere."… "Expanding Addington will mean more of our children can benefit from this outstanding provision, have a better quality of family life, and it will also save taxpayers money in the longer term.”