The Department for Education has approved plans to create 14 new special free schools with spaces for more than 1,100 children with additional needs.
The Orchard Hill College Academy Trust runs several schools for children with autism and learning difficulties across the south-east of England. They are soon planning to open a 150-place special free school and a nursery for children and adults aged two to nineteen in Croydon.
The Astrum Multi Academy Trust will build a 64-place special free school in Ilford for children aged two to seven years old with language, speech and communication needs.
The Samuel Ward Academy Trust has also been approved to open two new special free schools. The trust already runs 19 schools, some of which have been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
In Romford, a school will open for children aged three to sixteen; this will be for children with communication and interaction needs and also social, emotional and mental health needs.
According to data published by the DfE on the new Education, Health and Care plans, nearly 222,000 children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) have had their care reviewed as part of the plans to replace Statements of SEN.
The Government have also launched a national trial to give the SEND Tribunal new powers, which will enable young people and their parents the right to appeal decisions on the social care and health parts of their plan alongside their current rights of education.
Nadhim Zahawi, the minister of children and families said: “We want every child to have the support they need to unlock their potential, whatever their background and no matter what challenges they face. Our new Education, Health and Care Plans are putting the views of young people with special educational needs and disabilities and their families at the heart of the process so they can help shape the support they receive.
“It’s been a huge task to transfer every young person to one of these plans but local authorities have risen to the challenge with almost 222,000 cases reviewed and I congratulate them for it. We are now working with councils to make sure they carry out the remaining reviews and the new EHC plans are of the highest quality.
“To complement this work we are also opening new special free schools across the country that will provide tailored support for over a thousand children to ensure they have access to the excellent education that every child deserves.”
The Director of the Council for Disabled Children, Christine Lenehan, said: “As the SEND reforms enter their next critical phase the Council for Disabled Children is particularly keen to support the SEND Tribunal national trial. We have long believed that a single EHC plan will be most effective combined with a single route of redress. We see the trial as being a real opportunity to develop a baseline for clear and effective inter-agency responsibilities and this alongside the promotion of some excellent joint commissioning models, in partnership with families, as a powerful way of embedding the cultural change, which will make the reforms a success.”
The Department for Education said it had recently given £29 million to support local authorities with continuing implementation as well as providing £200,000 for local authority regional SEND coordinators.