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DfE announces 14 new special free schools

A national trial will also give parents and young people new rights to appeal to the SEND Tribunal

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A national trial will also give parents and young people new rights to appeal to the SEND Tribunal

A total of 14 new special free schools will create more than 1,100 additional places for children with additional needs, the government said today.

Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi (pictured) announced sponsors for the schools, at locations across England, which will cater for multiple learning needs, including children with autism and mental health needs.

The schools will open under the government’s free schools programme.

New data also published today shows that almost 222,000 children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) have now had their care reviewed as part of the government’s introduction of new Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

The plans provide tailored support for children and young people with SEND, bringing together their education, health and social care needs for the first time, and replacing the old Statements of SEN.

A national trial is to begin on giving parents and young people new rights to appeal to the SEND Tribunal over decisions on the social care and health parts of their plan. Previously their rights only covered education parts of the plan.

Mr Zahawi said: “It’s been a huge task to transfer every young person to one of these plans, but local authorities have risen to the challenge with almost 222,000 cases reviewed – and I congratulate them for it. We are now working with councils to make sure they carry out the remaining reviews and the new EHC plans are of the highest quality.

“To complement this work, we are also opening new special free schools across the country that will provide tailored support for over 1,000 children to ensure they have access to the excellent education that every child deserves.”

'A real opportunity'

Christine Lenehan, director of the Council for Disabled Children, said: “We have long believed that a single EHC plan will be most effective combined with a single route of redress. We see the trial as being a real opportunity to develop a baseline for clear and effective inter-agency responsibilities and this alongside the promotion of some excellent joint commissioning models, in partnership with families, as a powerful way of embedding the cultural change, which will make the reforms a success.”

A SEND review tool to help schools to identify priorities and build school-to-school approaches to improvement is now available at at www.sendgateway.org.uk

The new special free schools will include:

  • Bedford Inclusive Learning and Training Trust – a multi-academy trust that already runs two special schools and an alternative provision school in Bedfordshire – will open a 200-place special free school for children aged 3-19 with profound and multiple learning difficulties in Kempston, Bedford.
  • The East Blackburn Learning Community Trust will be created following the merger of two Ofsted "good"-rated schools – Blackburn Central High School and Crosshills Special School. This new special free school will be a 48-place special school for children aged 10-16 with a wide range of social, emotional and mental health needs in Blackpool, Lancashire.
  • East Cheshire Youth Achievement Free School Trust – which already runs nearby Fermain Academy – will open a 40-place special free school for children aged 4-16 with social, emotional and mental health needs in Crewe, Cheshire.
  • Edmonton Academy Trust – which runs all-through Edmonton County School – will open a 70-place special free school for children aged 11-19 with social, emotional, and mental health needs in Enfield, north London.
  • Prospere Learning Trust – a multi-academy trust that runs a number of mainstream schools and a special school – will open a 100-place special school for children aged 3-11 with profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism spectrum disorder in Blackley, Manchester.   
  • Astrum Multi-Academy Trust – which already runs nearby "outstanding"-rated Newbridge School – will open a 64-place special free school for children aged 2-7 with speech, language and communication needs, and social, emotional, and mental health needs, in Redbridge, East London.
  • The Enable Trust will be created following the merger of the New Siblands School and Culverhill School. The trust will open a 122-place special free school for children aged 2-19 with profound and multiple learning difficulties and severe learning difficulties in Alveston, South Gloucestershire.
  • Orchard Hill College Academy Trust – a multi-academy trust that already runs a number of schools for children with autism spectrum disorder and a wide range of learning difficulties across the south-east of England – will open a 150-place special free school and nursery for pupils aged 2-19 with autism spectrum disorder in Croydon, South London.
  • Nexus Multi-Academy Trust – which already runs four special schools in South Yorkshire – has been approved to open two new special free schools in the region. It will open a 100-place special free school for children aged 5-19 with complex communication and interaction needs, autism spectrum disorder and other social and mental health needs in Doncaster. It has also been approved to open a 60-place special free school for children with autism spectrum disorder and social, emotional, and mental health needs in Sheffield.
  • Catch22 Multi-Academy Trust – which already runs five special schools and an alternative provision school – will open a 125-place special school for children aged 4-16 with autism spectrum disorder and social communication needs in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
  • Samuel Ward Academy Trust – an established multi-academy trust with 19 schools  – has been approved to open two new special free schools. It will open a 60-place special free school for children aged 3-16 with communication and interaction needs and social, emotional and mental health needs in Romford, East London. It has also been approved to open a 60-place special free school for children aged 8-16 with autism spectrum disorder and social, emotional and mental health needs in Ipswich.
  • Barrs Court Academy Trust – which runs the Barrs Court School in Hereford – will open a 50-place special free school for children with severe and complex learning difficulties, including autism spectrum disorder, in Hereford.

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