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Suffolk County Council submits plans for new specialist facility to support children with autism

By Jason Noble, Local Democracy Reporter

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (5343084)
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (5343084)

Proposals have been submitted by Suffolk’s education team for a new special school in the county, amid a “crisis” in special education needs provision.

Suffolk County Council confirmed it had submitted a bid to the Department for Education last month, under the latest wave of free special school applications.

It aims to develop a specialist autism facility, which will cater for 60 pupils from school years 3 to 11.

It is understood the county will find out early next year if its bid has been successful.

A council spokeswoman said: “The bid was submitted in line with the free school wave process and was submitted on October 15.

“The free school process does not detail a response date for success other than early 2019.

“The decision was taken to request an ASC [autism spectrum condition] special school based on the growth data illustrated within the special education needs [SEN] sufficiency plan.

“The impact will be that young people with ASC will be able to access provision close to their home.”

A report prepared for the county council’s cabinet meeting in September revealed the organisation was struggling to meet demand for special education needs places, with a projected rise in demand of 18 per cent in the next two years.

Education chiefs said a further 300 to 400 new places would be needed in the next two years alone – the equivalent of three or four new special schools.

It is also having to fund the places, resulting in a projected overspend of £1.5 million to £2 million this year.

Data published under freedom of information laws this month revealed one in three applications for a special school placement were turned down or sent outside the county, prompting Labour’s education spokesman Jack Abbott to brand the situation a “crisis”.

A task force is scheduled to meet in January to discuss ways to help the county’s SEN provision.


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