Proposal to increase provision for children with complex needs related to autism

This story was published 28 February 2022

We are seeking the go-ahead to expand provision at a North Yorkshire school, so it can meet the needs of children and young people with complex needs related to autism.

Welburn Hall School in Ryedale

Under the proposal, Welburn Hall School in Kirkbymoorside, Ryedale, would provide up to 12 boarding places for up to seven nights a week during term-time for pupils aged eight to 19. The residential places would be provided for children and young people with a range of learning and communication needs including Autism, speech and language needs and moderate and severe learning difficulties.

Currently, many of these children and young people attend independent, residential special schools out of the county, in order to meet their needs. But they are often long distances away from their families and communities.

Our ambition is for children and young people with special educational needs to have access to high quality learning closer to home, so they can grow up and be educated in their local community. The number of children with complex needs, including Autism, is expected to continue to grow over the coming years.

At present, residential provision at Welburn Hall School is largely limited to young people over the age of 16 for up to four nights a week during term-time.  However, the demand for these places has been falling over time. There are no new starters from this September and the downward trend is likely to continue. Under the proposal the residential provision would be broadened to include the school’s full age range up to seven nights a week during term time.

We ran a public consultation on options for Welburn Hall School between October 14 to December 2, which included an online survey and a series of events for parents, carers, professionals and the public. The council’s Youth Engagement Team also worked with pupils to gather their views.

A total of 74 responses were received, the majority of which were positive, with 84 per cent of people agreeing, or strongly agreeing with the proposal to provide residential places to children with complex needs.

A report containing the results of the consultation will go before the our executive on March 8, along with a recommendation that the council goes ahead with the proposed changes to provision.

Jane le Sage, North Yorkshire’s assistant director for inclusion said: “The public consultation we ran showed a lot of support for changing the residential provision at Welburn Hall School for children and young people.

“It will enable children to have their needs met in North Yorkshire, keeping them closer to home, which will also be reassuring to families, allowing greater contact with their children.

“As well as allowing them to be educated nearer home, the proposal will also reduce the demand for places at alternative independent or out-of-authority schools, many of which are of considerable distance from North Yorkshire.”