Consultation on expanding special school places extended until May 25

A consultation is under way on proposals to address a shortage of special educational needs (SEND) places in Liverpool.

The Cabinet recently approved a proposal to seek the views of interested parties on a plan to move and expand three special schools and a Pupil Referral Unit to create more places for children with additional needs.

There has been a 46 per cent rise in the number of young people on Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) since 2019, with many parents expressing a preference for special schools in the city.

Some children are already educated at a distance from the city, far from family and communities, often involving long transport trips and the current number of maintained school places will not be enough to satisfy the increased demand.

The aim is to implement a long-term plan to create additional school places in the city within the state sector, reducing the need to place many children in the independent non-maintained special school sector.

By investing money locally in Liverpool City Council’s own places, the use of expensive independent provision – which can cost between £25k and £100k per place – can be reduced.

The proposals are:

Moving Bank View School in Fazakerley to Parklands in Speke
Bank View School currently provides education for pupils with a range of complex needs. By moving sites, it will be able take more children, including those with Autism, some of whom are currently taught outside of Liverpool.

Moving Princes Primary School in Toxteth to Redbridge High School in Fazakerley
Princes Primary School building is old and not fit for purpose whereas Redbridge High School is newer and is larger. The move would ensure that Princes Primary School can expand, with the majority of children and young people taught on one site, whereas at the moment there are currently satellite classes placed in other primary schools across the city. Both Princes School and Redbridge School cater for children and young people with severe learning disabilities.

Moving Redbridge High School in Fazakerley to the adjacent Bank View School
Redbridge High School currently already utilises some of the rooms in Bank View High School as they are located next to each other. The proposed move would also potentially enable Redbridge High School to increase in number. Should Princes School move onto the Redbridge School site and Redbridge move to the Bank View School site the provision for children with severe learning difficulties would be co-located on one site and educate children and young people from Early Years to post 16.

Moving New Heights School in Speke to Naylorsfield Drive in Netherley
New Heights School is a pupil referral unit and currently occupies part of the Parklands site and under the proposals would move to the vacant premises on Naylorsfield Drive in Netherley.

The council is also consulting with Hope School, Woolton High School, Clifford Holroyde School and Ernest Cookson School about a reorganisation of the special educational mental health sector (SEMH), to improve provision for social, emotional and mental health. Any changes would be subject to further consultation and designed with an emphasis on facilitating the development of a shared approach and ethos, ensuring continuity and stability for children and young people.

People wishing to comment on the proposals can do so at liverpool.gov.uk/consultations until 25 May.

Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Cllr Tom Logan, said: “The growth in the number of children with Education, Health and Care Plans means we have to think and act radically in order to meet the demand for places in the city.

“Too many of our young people with special educational needs are being educated outside of the city, or in placements in the independent sector, which are costing us £10 million per year.

“This is about making sure we have a long-term plan to meet demand, which will reduce the need for further reorganisations in the future, and improving the quality of the education provision for young people.

“There will be a reduction in the travel time for many pupils, although some others will have a longer journey, but we would work with parents and carers to fully support young people around the changes.

“These proposals are not set in stone and may be subject to further change, which is why we want to hear from all of those affected to inform the way forward.”

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