Thousands of new school places will be created for children with special educational needs and disabilities in plans to build 35 new special free schools.
The new schools, expected from September 2022, will provide children with tailored support and specialist equipment to support their individual needs such as sensory appliances and communication aids, the Government announced on Sunday.
35 new special free schools will help drive up standards in special education, providing specialist support and teaching for pupils with complex needs such as autism, severe learning difficulties or mental health conditions.— Department for Education (@educationgovuk) July 19, 2020
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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he has approved 33 school trusts to open and run 37 new schools which are set to benefit up to 3,000 students.
Of these, 35 will provide support and teaching for pupils with complex needs such as autism, severe learning difficulties or mental health conditions, the Department for Education (DfE) said.
The remaining two will be for children who have been, or are at risk of, being excluded from school to “level up their educational outcomes”.
Mr Williamson said: “This will give these young people the opportunity they deserve for tailored support in a school that responds to their individual needs, making them confident learners and engaged students.
“At the same time, I also want to transform the experience of children who have been permanently excluded or are at risk of being removed from the classroom.
“These new schools, adding to the network of excellent free schools around the country, will help level up opportunities for children from all backgrounds so they can receive a world-class education.”
Free schools, new state schools that are not under local council control, are typically set up by groups such as teachers, parents, charities, businesses or trusts, are directly funded by government, and have freedom over areas such as the curriculum and staff pay.
The Government said an additional 49 special and eight alternative provision (AP) free schools, education outside of a school setting, are in the pipeline, bringing the total number of special free schools to 128 once completed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We are delivering on our promise to reform our education system to ensure the next generation reach their full potential, and have already committed to increasing funding per pupil in primary and secondary schools.”
Dame Christine Lenehan, director of the National Children’s Bureau, said she welcomed the news, adding: “We are clear that all children have the right to the best quality education and we look forward to seeing these schools lead by example and enabling children to have the best possible outcomes.”