North Yorkshire is proposing to create much-needed additional special school places in the county.
The proposals will help to bring about the council’s recently adopted strategic plan for children and young people with special needs. The plan aims to increase the number of places in the county’s special schools and address gaps in specialist provision in some areas of the county. This has included submitting an application for a new special free school in Selby.
The county council has now decided to consult on two proposals in January to develop provision and create additional places in Skipton and Ripon.
The proposals aim to improve facilities and increase capacity at Brooklands School in Skipton, a 2-19 specialist school which provides high-quality education and an enriched curriculum for pupils with a wide range of complex needs.
The proposals would also fund some of the work on the proposed satellite site in Ripon of Mowbray Special School which will create another 30 places in the city with the intention of increasing that to 60.
Mowbray School has been praised by Ofsted for the strong progress children make in learning and for the many positive activities on offer, including work on the school farm.
The county council has already consulted on use of Ripon’s Moorside Infant School site for Mowbray’s satellite provision, which has received widespread approval.
The proposed work is the second phase of a capital programme funded from the Department for Education’s Special Provision Capital Funding with a total of £616,279 for the county between 2018 and 2021.
The funding must be spent on creating additional places, improving existing facilities, or developing new facilities at special schools judged by Ofsted as good or outstanding. It must benefit young people with special educational needs and disabilities who have an Education Health and Care Plan.
"This is much needed and very welcome money to support the increasing numbers of young people identified as having special needs, and the increasing number of those with Education, Health and Care Plans," said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Schools. "We are using this modest fund in the most efficient way possible to meet the aims of our strategic plan and to create additional places in the right areas of the county.
"We want to know what parents, carers, young people and teachers think about our proposals for using this next tranche of money from the DfE."
The proposed additional special school places in Ripon and Skipton amount to a second phase of expansion in special school places from this total funding pot. The first phase, which is already underway, includes £163,000 allocated to carry out a feasibility study at The Forest School near Harrogate, to improve facilities and create 25 more places at the school.
Phase one also includes completed work at Springwater School near Skipton where facilities have been improved, providing six additional places. The Dales School near Northallerton and Springhead School, Scarborough, will also benefit from improved facilities and six more places each.
The consultation on how to spend the special provision capital funding will start on 7th January 2019, and continue until 15 February. The council will then consider all the consultation feedback, before a decision by Executive members. A plan outlining how the money will be used will be published by 29th March 2019.