Wiltshire Council cabinet backs vision for special education
This bold investment will transform SEND in Wiltshire and provide an outstanding education for special needs students into the futureLaura Mayes, cabinet member for children’s services
Wiltshire Council's cabinet has backed a £20m investment to create a new centre of excellence for pupils with special needs in the county.
The new school will be developed at Rowdeford near Devizes to match the excellent facilities at Exeter House, Salisbury.
At a cabinet meeting today Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children's services, said families would be involved in designing the new school which would provide the best education and experience for pupils.
The purpose-built and amply-equipped school will address the need for an additional 220 SEND places for Wiltshire while providing a number of features:
- Great teaching from well-trained, caring specialist dedicated staff
- The right facilities and support hydro-pools, sensory rooms, physio, open outdoor space, speech and language therapy and family care
- Strong community links with cafes, community gardens and public playing fields
- Closer links between SEND schools, and greater support for all mainstream schools
- Links with specialist nurseries offering children with special needs seamless attention from very small to teenage years
- Good road routes to both sites which are central to the home locations of children and young people with SEND with space to expand
Within these proposals St Nicholas school, Chippenham, and Larkrise school in Trowbridge will stay open until the new school at Rowdeford opens, expected in September 2023.
Cllr Mayes said:
"This bold investment will transform SEND in Wiltshire and provide an outstanding education for special needs students into the future.
"We are bringing the best facilities, the best teaching and the best learning environment together in centres of excellence. That will help our staff apply their expertise and experience in greater strength and with greater purpose.
"We thank all who answered our consultation and helped shape this vision.
"The vision will mean change for children and young people, and that can sometimes be challenging. But we're certain that pupils, families and staff will love the new schools."
Stuart Hall, strategic director of the Wiltshire Parent Carer Council spoke at the cabinet meeting saying more than 100 parent carers had attended discussion sessions at the end of 2017 saying aspirations for SEND children's education needed to be raised.
He added: "Parents said that they wanted special schools to be centres of excellence that would not only have excellent integrated therapies, but would reach out and work in partnership with the mainstream schools.
"We ask that the decision taken stays true to the aspiration in the vision to deliver the best provision, with the best expertise, with the best resources, deliver the best community support, and provide the best preparation for adulthood; in a way that the available funding can realistically deliver, and holds the child at the very centre. We need to remember that the decision that is made today is not only about the children and families now, but about meeting the needs of many hundreds of children and their families in the future."
Cabinet members agreed the proposals and for a statutory consultation on the creation of the new school. The final decision will be made at cabinet in March 2019.