Government announces 60,000 more special needs places

  • 28th March 2024

Councils are to receive a record £850m cash boost to ensure children receive an education that meets their needs

Children across the country are to benefit from a record £850m investment in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) services in mainstream and special schools.

The money, which will be given to local authorities, will also be spent on improving the accessibility of buildings to ensure youngsters receive an education that meets their needs in high-quality environments for years to come.

The money, announced this week, will provide specialist support for children with autism, learning difficulties, mobility difficulties, and more, including extra encouragement in their learning, help communicating with other children, and support with physical or personal care difficulties, such as using the toilet or getting around the school safely.

The funding is part of the £2.6bn investment between 2022-2025 to help to put an end to families having to fight for the right support for their children.

When combined with the places already being created by the special free schools programme, this funding is creating over 60,000 new places across the country.

This is helping to increase capacity, following a decrease in pupils in special schools from 1997-2010.

Additionally, schools and sixth form colleges will benefit from £1.8bn in funding to help maintain their buildings.

This will support schools to invest in projects like refurbishing classrooms, improving playgrounds, and installing new windows, as well as larger projects such as upgrading heating systems, replacing roofs, or rewiring electrical systems.

On top of this the School Rebuilding Programme is transforming over 500 schools across England.

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, said: “All too often I hear from parents with children who have special educational needs having to fight to get the right support. That’s why this Government has a plan to deliver 60,000 more places that meet the needs of these pupils and their families.

“We are also continuing to invest in the school estate, so all children are taught in the best classrooms for generations to come.

“Whether in special or mainstream schools, we’re ensuring every child gets a world-class education, and the support they need to reach their potential.”

Eden Academy Trust is one of the trusts that has been successfully selected to run one of the 30 new special free schools in Hillingdon.

It will provide vital, specialist support to 180 children with autism and severe learning difficulties in London.

Chief executive of the Eden Academy Trust, Susan Douglas, said: “We know the life-changing impact that a successful special school can have on pupils and families and we are proud to work with the DfE and local authorities to expand places where we can so that more pupils are in the right setting.”

As part of the funding to improve school buildings, the Government has this week confirmed that 733 schools and sixth form colleges will benefit from the £450m Condition Improvement Fund (CIF).

Previous rounds of CIF funding saw Droitwich Spa High School and Sixth Form Centre in Worcestershire replace windows, which has helped to keep classrooms warm and reduce energy bills.

And Green Gates Academy in Stockton-on-Tees created spaces for children with social, emotional, and mental health problems to help regulate their emotions in a calm setting and help them engage in learning.

In addition, in the Wirral, Calday Grange Grammar School replaced a dilapidated teaching block with a modern music and drama building.

This investment will address problems with school buildings that were identified as part of the Government’s condition data collection, one of the largest and most-comprehensive surveys or school building condition in Europe, which helps target funding to where it is most needed.


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