Suffolk special needs education boost

MORE children with special education needs and profound learning difficulties may be able to attend schools in Suffolk if plans before the county council are given the go-ahead.

Graham Dines

MORE children with special education needs and profound learning difficulties may be able to attend schools in Suffolk if plans before the county council are given the go-ahead.

In the last financial year, Suffolk spent £2.46m to fund out-of-county places for 59 youngsters with extreme social, emotional and behavioural difficulties youngsters.

However, Ofsted inspectors have been critical that some of this schooling is “lacking in quality” and the council now believes that children and young people would be better off if “high quality local day provision” could be made available.


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It is part of a long-term shake-up of special needs education, which could see new facilities established in Felixstowe, Haverhill and Stowmarket, with the unit in Felixstowe funded as part of the development of high school provision in the town.

A countywide service is planned for children with autism who are currently educated at Beacon Hill special school in Ipswich and three satellite bases in Great Cornard, Halesworth and Honington.

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Children with severe dyslexia currently attend a special unit at Wickhambrook Primary School, near Newmarket, and the council is to look for suitable locations in Ipswich and Lowestoft to expand the service.

Earlier this year, the county council backed a “hub and satellite” model for special needs education based on Thomas Wolsey and Beacon Hill schools in Ipswich, Hillside in Sudbury, and other specialist schools in Ipswich, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds.

Any satellite schools will be established at mainstream schools to increase their ability to support children who have special needs.

In Lowestoft, the hub would be created by combining The Ashley and The Warren schools into a 250-place school for children five to 16, probably located at The Denes High School.

Changes in Bury St Edmunds, which would combine Priory and Riverwalk special schools, will take place as part of the current mainstream organisation review arising out of the county council's decision to abolish middle schools.

Completion of any changes will not be before 2013 at the earliest. Rosalind Turner, the county's director for children and young people, told the Cabinet that much of the programme would be funded by educating Suffolk children in the county rather than placing them with other authorities.

“It will also attract support from the new three-year Aiming High for Disabled Children pilot programme, which will bring in £6.8m to Suffolk,” said Mrs Turner.

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