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Council announces £4.6m plans for more specialist pupil places

Published on Tuesday, June 26, 2018

PLANS have been announced to invest over £4.6million in creating more specialist school places for some of the city’s most vulnerable pupils.

Over £2milllion has been earmarked to create 60 new places for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by increasing capacity at six specialist schools.

This would include 15 new places at Ellesmere College, 20 places across Keyham Lodge and Millgate special schools, 10 places at Westgate School, five new places at Nether Hall School and 10 additional places for primary age children with communication needs at Oaklands School.

Leicester City Council has received £525,000 for the Department for Education to help fund work to create the new places.

Currently, there are 1,084 children and young people being educated in city special schools or other designated specialist provision. There are a further 94 pupils being educated in special schools outside of the city.

By creating 60 additional local SEND places, it is anticipated that the council could save over £3milllion per year on out of city placements.

Alongside these proposals, a further £2.6milllion could be invested in relocating, extending and improving the city’s primary pupil referral unit.

The pupil referral unit provides specialist learning and support for children who are permanently excluded from school, or at risk of permanent exclusion, and may have a wide range of social and emotional difficulties.

Under the proposals, the unit would be moved from its current base in Thurnby Lodge to the currently vacant Nether Hall special school building. This would be thoroughly modernised and remodelled to meet the special requirements of the pupil referral unit. It would also increase the number of available full-time places from 15 to 18.

Willow Bank Children’s Hospital School will also be expanded to offer an additional 20 places. The school provides education for students aged from 11 to 16 years who are unable to attend their own school for medical reasons.

Deputy City Mayor Cllr Sarah Russell, who leads on children and young people’s services, said: “This represents a significant investment in schools and places for some of the city’s most vulnerable children.

“The growing demand for specialist pupil places in Leicester reflects the national picture. It is vital that we make the necessary investment to ensure our special schools can continue to offer their invaluable services to those children who need and deserve this expert support.

“This new investment is the latest phase of our ambitious school expansion programme that will provide an additional 600 year 7 school places by 2019/20, and more than 3,000 new pupil places overall, across all secondary year groups.”

It is project that up to 230 additional specialist pupil places could be needed in Leicester by 2025. Plans are currently being developed to address this growing need.

A decision on the proposals to invest in new specialist school places is due to be made on Wednesday 4 July.