Green light to develop more specialist education placements in Suffolk

On 29 January 2019, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet agreed recommendations to move forward with creating more specialist education places in Suffolk.

Suffolk will need between 300 to 400 places for children with additional needs between now and 2020, and this figure is likely to continue to increase. The demand for specialist education places in Suffolk is rising rapidly due to the county’s population growth, advances in medicine, and the increasing complexity of specialist needs.

The recommendations include three new special schools and 36 specialist units attached to existing mainstream schools, which combined will create over 800 new specialist education places in the county. The Cabinet also agreed that a clarified education pathway for specialist provision is created to assist families in understanding what the local offer is.

Following the approval of the recommendations, the proposal to borrow up to £45.1 million to fund the new places will now go to the county council’s Capital Strategy Group to be reviewed. If agreed, the decision will go back to Cabinet in the Spring for final sign-off so the recommendations can be rolled out.  

Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said:

“I welcome today’s decision. Suffolk County Council is committed to ensuring all of Suffolk’s children and young people are able to attend a good local school, one that meets their individual needs and supports them to achieve their full potential regardless of the challenges they may face.

“The decision today will help to create hundreds of more specialist school places across the county, reducing our dependence on placements outside of Suffolk, which come at a high cost, and transforming the experience of education for our children and young people with SEND.”