Councils join forces to secure free school for children with complex needs

Every region on the country will benefit from a new wave of free schools, according to the Department for Education
Every region on the country will benefit from a new wave of free schools, according to the Department for Education
Share this article

St Helens and Halton councils have joined forces in a bid to secure a new free school for children with complex needs.

Last month the Department for Education (DfE) announced that every region in the country will benefit from a new wave of free schools.

The 39 new free schools, which include two alternative provision free schools, will offer an extra 3,459 extra places for pupils.

A delegated decision has now been taken by St Helens Council to partner with Halton Borough Council in a bid to the DfE for a special free school.

The decision notice on St Helens Council’s website there is a “growing demand” as well as “budget pressures” for specialist placements for pupils with social, emotional and mental health difficulties.

“The DfE have recently announced the next wave of free schools,” the notice says.

“This wave invites local authorities to bid for a special free school.

“In order to meet growing demand for specialist placements for pupils with social, emotional and mental health difficulties, and the budget pressures created as a consequence, it is proposed that St Helens Council is a partner in a bid submitted by Halton Borough Council to establish a special free school.”

Of the 37 new special free schools, six will be in the North West. These will provide more than 400 places for children with a variety of complex needs.

There are 34 special and 42 alternative provision free schools already open.

The fresh wave of free schools come on top of a further 66 free schools approved in a previous application round.

Upon completion, the total number of special free schools will come to 125.

“We want every school to be a school for children with special educational needs and disabilities,” Education Secretary Damian Hinds said last month.

“That’s why we are investing significant funding into Special Education Needs units attached to mainstream schools and in additional support so children with education, health and care plans can access mainstream education.

“But we recognise some children require more specialist support.

“These new special free schools and alternative provision schools will make sure that more complex needs can be provided to help support every child to have a quality education.”