Children with severe learning difficulties in South Gloucestershire will benefit from a new Special Free School to help meet their needs, following a Government announcement today that they will fund the construction of a new school.
South Gloucestershire Council will now hold a four-month process to invite organisations interested in running the new school to submit their plans, showing how they would meet the needs of children and young people with Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) and Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD).
The plan is that the new school will become a centre of excellence and provide schooling for up to 112 pupils, from nursery-age to post-16 education, opening as early as 2019.
Over the next four months (until 24 November), bidders are invited to submit proposals to meet the criteria set out by the Department for Education (DfE). Those plans will then be jointly assessed by the council and the DfE and the preferred option will be passed to the Secretary of State for Education for approval.
The Government has approved South Gloucestershire to get one of a number of new Special Free Schools because while there is provision and expertise in providing specialist education services in the area, there is still greater need. Significant numbers of children with learning disabilities are required to travel some distance to schools and services outside the district and the new school would be a boost for local families.
Councillor Toby Savage, Cabinet Member for Schools, Skills and Employment/Councillor Jon Hunt, Cabinet Member for Children & Young People, said: “We want to ensure that every young person gets the best possible education and can achieve their potential, regardless of their health, background or additional needs. I am therefore delighted that South Gloucestershire will be home to a yet another new Special Free School, which will provide new opportunities to children and young people with particular needs right here, close to home.
“We look forward to receiving strong interest from existing providers as well as potentially from new entrants who show that they can use the Free School model to help more of our special youngsters achieve their potential.”
More information about Special Free Schools can be found online at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/special-free-schools-commissioned-by-a-local-authority.
More information about the proposals and requirements for potential operators of the new Special Free School in South Gloucestershire can be found online here: www.southglos.gov.uk/freeschool