County councillors have formally endorsed the proposal for a new free special school in South Northamptonshire.
Northamptonshire County Council has a £4.8million capital grant from the government to increase capacity across the county for children with special educational needs.
Since 2014 the number of school places in special schools or units has increased by 534, with the opening of new special schools in Corby, Northampton and Daventry; and an annex to a primary special school in East Northants.
The East Northants school will offer an additional 145 additional places, but has faced delays in opening, with the Department for Education funding interim school places as a result.
But despite the extra capacity that has been added, all the special schools are now at or over capacity and the authority cannot place all children whose parents request a specialist placement.
Now, following a consultation – which was legally required to access the £4.8million government grant – the county council’s cabinet has agreed to officially endorse a proposal to build a new free special school in the south of the county.
Cabinet member for education, Councillor Fiona Baker, told councillors at One Angel Square on Tuesday (September 10): “This is a very much needed resource. We’re looking for a site.”
A questionnaire sent out to parents received 244 responses, while there were 150 replies to a public questionnaire. And the response from residents indicated ‘strong support’ for the commissioning of a new all-through special school in South Northamptonshire, with more than half ‘strongly agreeing’ with the proposal.
The council is now set to commence commissioning of the project, which will be subject to a further cabinet report.