Released: 10 March 2023
A new school for children with special educational needs and disabilities will be built in West Sussex following a successful bid by West Sussex County Council.
The Department for Education (DfE) announced the news in a letter to the County Council, saying its application demonstrated the growing need for specialist places.
The new special free school will provide 130 full-time places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who have autism spectrum and social emotional and mental health needs. It will be an all-though school for both boys and girls aged from 4 to 18.
Nigel Jupp, Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills, said: “We are extremely pleased that the DfE has accepted our application for a new specialist provision free school to be built in West Sussex as part of the government’s free school building programme. This new school will provide much-needed places and an excellent learning environment specifically for children who have special educational needs and disabilities.
“Across West Sussex, 18% of all school-age children currently receive some kind of SEND support, which is higher than the national average. So, the need for this new school is great and together with the hundreds of new SEND school places that West Sussex County Council will build over the coming years, it will help us to ensure every child in West Sussex has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, regardless of their needs.”
In accepting West Sussex County Council’s application, the DfE praised the ‘commitment and effort’ demonstrated in bidding for one of 33 new special free schools which will be created across England.
West Sussex County Council made a bid for two new schools and has had one of these provisionally approved. The Council has formally accepted the offer and will now work with the DfE on the next steps in creating the new school, including where in the county it will be built.
Separately to the government’s school-building programme, West Sussex County Council is creating more than 300 new school places for children with SEND.
The majority of the new places will be created by expanding the council’s special schools. Extra capacity will also be built at a number of mainstream schools, with the creation of more special support centres, adding to those already in development.
Among the new projects, which are at difference stages of development, include:
• Expanding Queen Elizabeth II School in Horsham to accommodate up to 60 additional pupils with complex needs on a satellite site at Arun House nearby
• Increasing capacity at Fordwater School in Chichester from 144 to 184 places through the use of a satellite site to accommodate an extra 40 secondary-age children with severe and complex needs
• Creating new special support centres at six mainstream schools, enabling around 80 extra children to receive specialist tutoring while accessing the same learning as other children
In a separate scheme, West Sussex County Council is also over halfway through a major project to rebuild the college facilities at Woodlands Meed special school in Burgess Hill for 100 children with additional needs.
West Sussex County Council will fund the creation of these 300 extra SEND places, estimated to be around £13 million, from its existing, approved SEND capital development fund, to meet a growing need.