Nine SEND children in Central Beds waiting for school places at start of academic year
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Nine children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) from Central Bedfordshire are waiting for a school place at the start of the current academic year, according to the local authority.
There are now 3,321 children and young people in the area with an education, health and care plan (EHCP), Central Bedfordshire Council revealed in its latest SEND newsletter.
“We’ve 11 children currently supported in mainstream schools while they wait for their special school place,” said the council.
“The number of children with EHCPs currently waiting for a school place at the start of this September is nine.
“There are 250 of the children and young people with EHCPs attending schools out of our area. This includes mainstream and special schools, which is normal practice.
“That also takes account of parental preference and where children live. These placements are often the most local provision.”
Parents of SEND children without school places for September 2023 were warned in April that they face “a difficult and challenging” wait.
Packages of support were being provided as work continued to resolve the placements for 66 pupils, CBC’s children’s services overview and scrutiny committee meeting was told earlier this year.
CBC’s director of children’s services Sarah-Jane Smedmor explained at that time: “Many of those children are in school with enhanced packages of support being provided for them and we monitor to ensure there are actions taking place.
“The bigger picture is our special school places plan and we’ve added to our own special school places.”
An updated CBC special places plan is due to be presented to the scrutiny committee in October.
Local authorities are required to keep their special places under regular review, added the council.
“We review our plans on a regular basis to ensure that we are developing the right type of provision, as well as having sufficient specialist places in our additionally resourced provisions (ARPs) and special schools.
“An extra 142 specialist places have been created during the last two years, with 35 in ARPs and 107 of these in our special schools.
“We’ve provided 83 more places to children who were in mainstream schools requiring specialist school placements for September 2023.
- expanding ARPs at Samuel Whitbread in Shefford, Arnold Academy in Barton-le-Clay and Lancot Challenger Academy in Dunstable enabled 29 places, while two new resourced provisions have opened at The Vale Academy in Dunstable and The Rushmere Park Academy in Leighton Buzzard;
- ten have been provided through capital works at Weatherfield Special School in Dunstable;
- ten are newly created places at Ivel Valley Special School in Biggleswade;
- and 34 are from capital works at The Chiltern Special School in Houghton Regis.”
CBC has plans to create 501 new specialist places by September 2026, with 136 ARPs and 365 in special schools.
The Chiltern is being expanded to provide a further 60 by September 2024, while relocating Ivel Valley to a new site creates another 55 places.
Proposals are at an early stage for 120 more places at Weatherfield Special School, and the council hopes to open a social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) free school supplying 130 places with the Department for Education in 2026.