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Bids open to create 19 new free schools for children with SEND

New schools will create 1,600 new places

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New schools will create 1,600 new places

The government has opened bids for 19 new free schools for children with special educational needs or a disability.

The new schools will be created to meet specific needs in 19 local authorities, and the specifications have been developed by the local authorities, with the Department for Education.

Applicants have until 24 November to apply to the local authorities, setting out how they meet the criteria.

The DfE said the schools would create 1,600 new special free-school places.

The specifications published today include a 150-place school in Croydon for children aged 2 to 19 with autism spectrum disorder, and a 200-place school in Bedford.

Schools minister Lord Nash said: “Free schools are providing many good new school places in response to the needs of communities across the country. This process will give local authorities the chance to identify expert organisations with proven track records in SEND provision to run special schools that will help hundreds of children fulfil their potential.”

Toby Young, director of the New Schools Network (NSN), welcomed the opening of the bids.

He said: “We have already seen some outstanding special schools opened through the free-school process, such as the Churchill School in Haverhill, but we need many more. Any specialist groups interested in setting up one of these schools, including one of the 19 already approved, should contact NSN and we will guide them through the process.”

The new schools are part of the wave of 131 new free schools announced in April 2017.

Last week, education secretary Justine Greening announced that 30 of those free schools would now be delivered through the "local authority route", which she said would save £280 million.

The DfE said that the 19 special free-schools were separate to the 30 that Ms Greening referred to.

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