Admissions for new SEND school and units this September to continue despite coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 13:41 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:41 07 May 2020
Steps are in place for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to be admitted to new schools in Suffolk as planned this September - despite construction delays caused by the Covid-19 crisis.
The first 10 specialist units attached to mainstream schools under a new £45million investment plan are due to open in September.
In total they provide 168 places, along with the new Sir Bobby Robson School in Ipswich for 60 pupils with SEND.
MORE: Work starts on Sir Bobby Robson School in Ipswich
Some construction work had to be halted because of the coronavirus pandemic, but SEND chiefs have said they expect most to open on time.
Back-up plans are in place to ensure that the provision is in place in time for September, even if that means a temporary stay in another building.
Judith Mobbs, assistant director for inclusion and skills, said: “The biggest risk is around Sir Bobby Robson School because that is where we have the greatest number of admissions this September, and we have a back-up plan that enables them to open in other buildings if necessary.
“Construction workers are back on the site working but because of social distancing, the sequencing of work has to be slower.
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“The provision will still be available but we may need to locate it in an alternative building as a temporary measure, but that is in hand.
“In terms of the specialist units, the majority can go ahead or we are talking about minor construction work which we are able to catch up with, but it all depends on how lockdown is lifted and what the next few weeks bring us.
“In a couple of cases it means we will admit less children to that unit because we can’t complete the building works we hope to, and that will be the worst case scenario. We are exploring if there are any other alternative options [for those].”
MORE: New Copleston High School buildings unveiled
The first 10 new SEND units due to open in September are as follows, although it is anticipated there will likely be a delay on Copleston High School in Ipswich having its unit open on time:
• Pipers Vale Primary Academy, Ipswich
• Burton End Primary Academy
• Murrayfield Primary Academy, Ipswich
• Houldsworth Valley Primary Academy
• Causton Junior School
• Copleston High School, Ipswich
• Ixworth School
• Newmarket Academy
• Clements Primary Academy, Haverhill
• Castle Manor Academy, Haverhill
MORE: Council unveils £45million plan for hundreds of new SEND places
Adam Dabin, headteacher of the Sir Bobby Robson School, said: “While the school building was on track for opening in September, the coronavirus pandemic understandably meant work had to be paused at the end of March.
“Work has restarted, while adhering to Government guidelines, but the building may not be quite ready. A strong contingency plan is being developed in a partnership with Suffolk County Council and the Department for Education.
“We expect shortly to be able to release more details, once final approvals of the plan have been secured, and we will be speaking to our families first as a matter of course.
“We are very excited about starting the school’s journey in September.”
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