A new £40 million strategy to address challenges for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families could be introduced in Lincolnshire.
Following the launch of a consultation on Monday, January 8, parents, carers, families and children are being asked their thoughts on the proposed scheme.
Currently, there are around 3,000 children in the county with some form of SEND, however 1,580 go to the 20 special schools in Lincolnshire while others attend mainstream schools.
New proposals by Lincolnshire County Council’s Children’s Services would see an increased capacity at special schools by 300 places and a new school built in Boston to replace the current John Fielding site – with an increase of 100 places.
The new strategy would include:
- Addressing the challenges pupils with SEND and their families face in accessing the right education.
- Reducing the length of journeys to school for pupils with SEND by ensuring all special schools can meet all types of need and disability, so pupils can go to their nearest school.
- Enhancing provision through investment in schools, so that all pupils have equal access to the facilities needed to meet their needs. The council are proposing to build facilities for pupils with complex physical disabilities in all special schools so they can be educated in their nearest school and develop more sensory and therapeutic spaces in all schools so all pupils can access these facilities.
- Through investment, ensuring there are enough school places to meet the growing demand and for pupils to be able to attend their nearest school, or one in their locality. It is likely some schools will be expanded and a new school will be built.
- Seeing all professionals work closely together to ensure our special schools have the right type of health and social care support to meet the needs of all pupils.
- Developing satellites of special schools on some mainstream school sites so pupils with SEND will have the opportunity to access mainstream experiences and curriculum, supported by the nurturing environment of their special school.
- Providing opportunities for children to return to mainstream, through these satellites.
- Supporting pupils with SEND to be able to access a special school closer to home, rather than them being educated outside of Lincolnshire.
- Developing stronger relationships between special and mainstream schools so that pupils with SEND can be educated in mainstream school – teaching staff will be given access to the expert knowledge of special school staff.
Councillor Patricia Bradwell, Executive Councillor for Children’s Services, said: “All children have the right to access education as near to their local community as possible and we are fully committed to working with our schools, parents and families to help realise this ambition.
“These are significant changes which aim to bring accessible inclusive education in all communities, minimal travel, enhanced provision and increased number of school places.
“We want all children to be able to access high quality education and achieve their potential, as near to their family and local community as possible.”
Coralie Cross, Chair of the Lincolnshire Parent Carer Forum, added: “We want to ensure community special schools can meet the need of all pupils no matter what their specific disabilities may be and increase support to children and young people in mainstream school.”
All interested parties are being urged to comment through a survey on the Lincolnshire County Council website by March 14, 2018. A number of consultation meeting dates are also listed on the website.