Councillors to discuss investment in special educational needs places

11 January 2018

Children with special educational needs in Norfolk could benefit from increased specialist places in mainstream schools and complex needs schools, as part of a strategy to educate children closer to their homes.

Norfolk County Council is set to receive an additional £2.7m from the Department for Education to ensure there is sufficient specialist provision for children with additional needs, subject to government approval of the council’s plans.

However, the council believes a more ambitious plan, beyond the £2.7m, is needed to ensure children can go to school closer to their communities, reducing the high transport and placement costs for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Members of the Children’s Services Committee will discuss possible options when they meet on Tuesday, 16 January.  Future plans could see extensions at some of the county’s existing maintained special schools and up to 156 extra places at specialist resources bases, within mainstream schools.

Stuart Dark, Chairman of the Children’s Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said:  “We want all children to be taught close to their homes but some children with special educational needs and disabilities are having to travel considerable distances to school, meaning they spend many hours a week travelling.

“This is not what we want for our children and it is putting pressure on both our transport budget and schools’ funding.  This extra funding from the DfE means we can look to develop extra places in the good and outstanding special schools we have in Norfolk, as well as in bases at mainstream schools.”

The report to councillors recommends a further report to the March committee, updating members on the long-term strategy.

In next week’s meeting, councillors will also hear progress on the £169m programme to develop new and extended schools.

The programme aims to ensure there are sufficient school places across the county, responding to both population growth and housing development.

For political comment

Cllr Stuart Dark (Conservative) Acting Chairman of the Children’s Services Committee, on 07450 679355 
Cllr Emma Corlett (Labour) on 07557 634891 
Cllr Dr Edward Maxfield (Liberal Democrat) on 07449 706 215 
Cllr Sandra Squire (Independent), on 01945 773283

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