Plans submitted to expand Houghton Regis special needs school by using former college campus

If approved, 115 extra spaces would be created for students with autism
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Have your say over plans to expand a special education needs school in Houghton Regis.

Central Bedfordshire Council is consulting on proposals to expand and increase capacity at the Children Special School. If approved, they will create 115 new places for pupils with autism and complex needs, taking the school’s total to 419 places.

The council says changes to the school are “to ensure that more children and young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) have access to great education close to home”

Chiltern School. Picture: Google MapsChiltern School. Picture: Google Maps
Chiltern School. Picture: Google Maps

It added: “A growth in demand for special school provision within Central Bedfordshire has resulted in increased placements within the independent sector and outside of Central Bedfordshire.

“From September 2017 to September 2023, Central Bedfordshire experienced an almost 94 per cent increase in EHC plans. This compares to 65 per cent nationally.”

The proposals include expanding the current school to the former Universal Technical College’s Kingsland Campus. This college, which specialised in education for engineers, and products and games designers, closed in August 2016.

The buildings are less than a one-minute walk from the Chiltern School site and back onto the same field.

Moving parts of the school to the new site would allow for extra sensory spaces, more dedicated classrooms, create a secure outdoor space for pupils with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and space for rebound therapy.

The school works across two sites – one for secondary school age children, and another for younger pupils. The proposed expansion would mean the former primary school site on Beech Road in Dunstable would be permanently closed.

The council added: “The relocation of pupils from the former primary school site through the refurbishment of the nearby UTC building, will allow for all pupils at the school to benefit from enhanced SEND provision, currently not available or not accessed by all pupils due to the school being on a split site.”

The council has set aside around £50 million across Central Bedfordshire.

You can have your say by clicking this link. The consultation is open until April 5.