Extra school places for children with special educational

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School children in classroom

Extra school places for children with special educational needs in Hampshire will be created.

Hampshire County Council has approved the extra places for children with special educational needs (SEN) at three schools in Waterlooville, Winchester and Farnborough.

Like many other local authorities in the country, Hampshire County Council said it continues to face rising demand for special educational needs provision.

Currently, the county council has 16,500 educational health care plans for children with SEN demands across the county. By 2030/31, Hampshire is forecast to have around 28,000 pupils with an plan if unmitigated.

In the last academic year, the authority received 225 requests for plans between September and February. It said November 2023 saw the highest number of requests, with 104.

In line with Hampshire’s SEND Strategy for 2023-2027, Councillor Steve Forster, the executive member for education, has approved the expansion of SEN provision at Riverside Community Special School in Waterlooville, Shepherds Down School near Winchester, and Samuel Cody School in Farnborough. The investment of £13.5 million is conditional on planning permission.

In this term, by using spare rooms at Mill Hill Primary School in Mill Road, Riverside Community Special School, based a mile away in Scratchface Lane, will be able to support 12 children with severe learning difficulties, taking the school’s total number of children from 137 to 149 from April/May 2024.

For this project, £410,000 has been allocated.

The expansion of Shepherds Down School in Shepherds Lane, Compton, would provide a two-classroom modular building for an extra 20 primary-aged pupils with severe learning difficulties and autistic spectrum conditions. From September 2024, the school’s number of pupils will increase from 170 to 190.

This project would cost £800,000. With the approval, the county council will publish public notices so parents and others interested can give their views on the proposed expansions.

Councillor Jackie Porter said that the expansion will generate pressure and impact traffic in the area.

She said the school had expanded “quite a lot” over the past 10 years and extra traffic was a “concern for local people and the people that go to the school”.

Natalie Smith, assistant director of education and inclusion, said that a review will be conducted to improve access and parking, which will be subject to a separate consultation.

With an investment of £800,000, the expansion of Samuel Cody School in Farnborough’s Chaucer Road, would see some underused spaces in the primary block of the school reconfigured and refurbished, providing two new classrooms and other new facilities.

At the same time, this would enable children in Oak Farm Community Pre-School, currently based within the school’s primary block, to move to larger accommodation on the school site with its own entrance and play area.

The changes would increase the number of children across the school’s sites from 295 to 338 from September 2024.

Public notices will also be published for this proposal.

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