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Government expands support for pupils with SEND

Locations announced for 16 new special free schools and trusts appointed at a further 7 schools, providing thousands of vital places across England.

New schools providing dedicated support for over 2,000 children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are to open in 16 areas across England. 

From Bury to Surrey to Solihull, the schools will provide vital specialist spaces for pupils whose needs cannot be met in mainstream education. A competition for academy trusts to run the schools will be launched in the coming days.   

The announcement follows investment of £105 million confirmed by the chancellor at this year’s spring budget, and is part of the government’s plan that is delivering 60,000 more special school places – the largest ever expansion in capacity. This is helping to increase capacity, following a decrease in pupils in special schools from 1997 to 2010. 

It comes as a further seven special free schools are one step closer to opening in Merton, Cambridgeshire, Kent, and Norfolk to create over 1,000 places as the trusts have now been selected to run them.  

The government is sticking to the plan to ensure every child can receive the education they need to fulfil their potential and be well prepared for adulthood and employment. 

The government has already opened 108 schools as part of the special free schools programme since 2010, with a further 93 planned to open in future years. 

Special schools ensure pupils with special needs such as autism, emotional and behaviour disorders, severe learning difficulties and more can flourish thanks to specially trained teachers, programmes, and equipment. 

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:  

Special schools can truly transform children’s lives, enabling pupils with special education needs and disabilities to thrive in environments that meet their needs.

We’re creating tens of thousands of special school places since 2010 and today’s announcement takes us one step closer to our commitment of a record 60,000 more places for children with additional needs.

I know how hard it can be for families trying to navigate the SEND system, and the creation of more brilliant special schools is just one part of our plan to make sure every family and every child get the right support, in the right place at the right time.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott said:

Every child deserves the chance to reach their full potential. 

That’s why we’re opening 200 Special Schools across the country, ensuring every child receives a best-in-class education.

 The government is committed to reforming the SEND and Alternative Provision system to ensure earlier intervention, consistent high standards and less bureaucracy through its SEND and AP Improvement Plan.

The plan also committed to strengthening protections, and improving the outcomes, for children in unregistered alternative provision.   

consultation has been launched today for eight weeks setting out proposals to use unregistered alternative provision as an intervention, not a destination, to complement the education provided in school.  

It also proposes measures for providers to be subject to new, proportionate quality assurance frameworks, underpinned by national standards. The proposals build on the findings of the government’s previous call for evidence.

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