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(UK) Worcs: "Increasing intake of pupils with complex needs" leads to warning for lack of places

Mar 19, 2024, BBC News: School's warning over lack of special needs places

Central England

Governors at a Worcestershire school claim the county council is ignoring solutions to create more special educational needs and disability (SEND) places.

Fort Royal Community Primary School governors warned a lack of SEND places could have "dire consequences" for vulnerable children. . . .


Councillor Tracey Onslow, the council’s cabinet member for education, said the rise in the number of children with special educational needs had put pressure on access to specialist provision for pupils in Worcestershire.


Class sizes at Fort Royal are being reduced, meaning fewer SEND places, after a report commissioned by Worcestershire Children First looked at the implications of the school’s increasing intake of pupils with complex needs.


“This move, while critical for our current pupils’ welfare, projects a stark capacity crisis that urgently demands a strategic response,” said Ms Evans.


The governors said they had suggested relocating Riversides School to the Fort Royal site, funding the move by selling its current premises in Barbourne.


'A distressing trend'


Ms Evans explained: "Such initiatives not only promise immediate relief but also envisage significant longer-term savings to the higher needs fund, currently burdened by a substantial deficit. . . .


"This approach neglects the dire consequences of insufficient specialist provision: Increased pupil and parent distress, missed educational opportunities, and adverse life outcomes for some of our most vulnerable citizens."


Ms Onslow said the council was continuing "to work with all schools around inclusion and with all specialist settings, in particular special schools, to review options available to increase pupil numbers and to ensure that children were accessing the most suitable provision for their needs.


"Options include re-configuration of spaces, expansions, or conversion of temporary accommodation to permanent builds," she said.


"We are waiting to hear from the government regarding the 2024-25 High Needs Provision Capital allocations and will continue to work with our MPs to lobby central government for additional funding."





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