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New special schools in Downham Market and Great Yarmouth move a step closer

Norfolk County Council, 15 May 2024 15:30

Two new Norfolk special schools have moved a step closer, after two trusts were selected to lead the schools.

The schools, part of Norfolk County Council's multi million pound Local First Inclusion programme, will create a total of 270 new school places.

The Department for Education has appointed Eastern Learning Alliance to manage the school in Downham Market, and Unity Schools Partnership to lead the school in Great Yarmouth.

Councillor Penny Carpenter, Cabinet Member for Children's Services at Norfolk County Council said "This announcement is a significant step toward expanding specialist education provision in Norfolk. We want to enable all children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) to get a consistently high-quality education with the right support for their needs in their local area first.

"Unity Schools Partnership and Eastern Learning Alliance have exceptional track records in delivering excellent education and support for children with SEND. Unity Schools Partnership currently oversees five special schools, with three of them achieving a "good" rating from Ofsted, while the other two schools are new provisions and have not yet been rated.

"Eastern Learning Alliance, which manages The Cavendish School, the world's first International Baccalaureate (IB) special autism school, received an "Outstanding" rating in all areas from a recent Ofsted inspection.

"I have every confidence that these trusts will achieve the same high standards for the children and young people of Great Yarmouth and Downham Market."

These new special schools are part of the County Council's special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) improvement programme called Local First Inclusion (LFI). LFI is bringing more than £100m of new investment by the Department for Education (DfE) and Norfolk County Council. It aligns with the Government's previously announced SEND improvement plans.

Tim Coulson, CEO of the Unity Schools Partnership which will operating the Great Yarmouth School, said "It is an honour for us at Unity Schools Partnership to be chosen to operate one of the two new schools in Norfolk. We strongly believe that education is a right, not a privilege. This expansion will support our aim to ensure that every child receives the best education, whether in mainstream education or at a special school."

Lucy Scott, CEO of the Eastern Learning Alliance which will be operating the Downham Market school, said "We look forward to working with the DfE and Norfolk County Council on this important project, which comes in response to the growing need for more specialist places within our education system.

"The Eastern Learning Alliance have an excellent track record in ensuring exceptional provision for autistic students, led by our work at The Cavendish School (TCS) in Cambridgeshire. The vision for that school has always been to ensure excellent academic and pastoral provision for autistic students, many of whom have experienced significant educational disruption prior to joining the school. We look forward to building on the platform provided by TCS as we work to open a similar provision for young people in Norfolk."

The County Council wants children and young people with SEND to be able to attend schools that can successfully meet their needs and are as close to homes as possible.

Children's Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) coordinators will work with them and their parents to understand whether either of these two new special schools will be suitable for their child's needs and which school they would like to have named for their child. Remaining in mainstream education will also be explored.

Last modified: 15 May 2024 15:59

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