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Dozens of new special education places open this autumn

03 September 2021

Up to 168 new special education places for children with SEND are set to open this autumn, thanks to a multi-million pound investment from Norfolk County Council.

The first of three new special schools and five brand new specialist resource bases (SRBs) at mainstream schools will open their doors in Great Yarmouth, Downham Market, Caister and Norwich.

The new provision has been developed as part of the council’s five-year £120 million Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) transformation programme, which pledged to improve support for inclusion in mainstream schools and create 500 new special education places.

The new-build Bure Park Specialist Academy at Great Yarmouth providing 88 places for boys with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs will open from mid-September.

A new-build SRB for 10 children with learning and cognition needs (LCN) will open at Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market in September.

And four new specialist education bases, which are part of the SRB network, are also set to open at a further four primary schools this autumn creating up to another 70 new places for children with social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH).

Norfolk’s network of SRBs are classrooms, attached to or part of mainstream schools, with their own staff and resources. They provide children with SEND with the additional support they need to flourish at a mainstream school. Each one specialises in a different area of need. We currently have SRBs for: SEMH, LCN, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ASD with complex needs, speech, language and communications needs (SLCN), and deafness.

Deputy Cabinet Member for Children’s Services Cllr Daniel Elmer said: “It’s fantastic to see all these new places open to support the learning of so many children and young people.

“Yarmouth’s new special school is set to provide a really excellent facility in the east of the county.

“And the new specialist support provided by SRBs at locations across Norfolk will give children the extra support they need to achieve their full potential in mainstream schools.

“It is a significant step forward in our pledge to create more specialist places for children with SEND.”

The four new SEMH bases are purpose-built or refurbished accommodation offering smaller class sizes, higher staffing ratios, specialist therapeutic and educational psychologist support, and a newly-created family learning team. Family learning teams at each base will help to develop and build relationships with children and their families and provide opportunities for families to actively participate in their child’s placement and learning.

Each with 16 places, they are being built at Caister Infant and Nursery School and Caister Junior School; Arden Grove Infant School at Hellesdon near Norwich: Edith Cavell Academy and Nursery in Norwich; and Wensum Junior Academy in Norwich, with an existing base being expanded from 10 places to 16 places at Mundesley Infant and Junior Schools.

They are expected to welcome their first pupils in the autumn term initially beginning with eight children at each one, building up to their full capacity of 16 places per base by the end of 2022. Children will attend for up to four terms of support before reintegrating back into their mainstream school, remaining part of the school throughout their time at the SEMH base.

The new bases will join the existing family of well-established SEMH SRBs at: St Michael’s Primary School, in King’s Lynn, Manor Field Infant and Nursery School in Long Stratton, and Mundesley Infant School and Junior Schools. Find out more about SEMH SRBs.

Norfolk County Council is building two more special schools at Fakenham and Easton near Norwich and building a new expansion at the John Grant School at Caister. It has already built and opened two SRBs for children with ASD at Thetford Academy and Thetford’s Redcastle Primary School earlier this year with two more planned for Drake Primary School in Thetford and Greyfriars Academy Primary in King’s Lynn.

Admissions are made through a county admissions panel. Any parents or carers wishing to explore whether a place could support their child should contact their child’s school.

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