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