New Lincoln school would take pressure from oversubscribed special schools

A new school could be built in Lincoln as part of £50 million plans to increase the number of places for children with special educational needs, it has been confirmed.

Council officers have submitted proposals to the Department for Education for a new Free School in Lincoln as part of a five-year plan which will create up to 500 spaces.

They said the hope was that the school – which could cater to 155 places and be an ‘all needs’ school – would help reduce numbers at Lincoln’s St Christopher’s School, which was described as ‘hugely oversubscribed’.

The location has not yet been determined.

Chief officer for education at the county council Heather Sandy said following the meeting: “It [the school] will help reduce some of the pressure on some of the current special schools in Lincoln and also provide capacity for children and young people who will need spaces in the future.”

Heather Sandy, chief officer for education at Lincolnshire County Council.

She said St Christopher’s was a ‘really popular school’ but added ‘we have too many children who want to go there’.

She added nobody would be made to move school.

During the meeting, officers also confirmed the authority could look at another school in the Sleaford and North Kesteven area – however, this will depend on pupil numbers and capacity going forward and has not been fully explored yet.

The plans include alterations to 10 special schools including St Christopher’s School and St Francis School in Lincoln.

The idea for the plan will be to make the schools cater for all schools to meet a “wider range of pupils”.

It will include such changes as increased capacity, relocation and merging of some schools.

Councillor Sarah Parkin said: “This is so needed. There is such a struggle for families trying to access special schools and many children aren’t able to find a place and are left without an education for even a short period of time and that can be really disruptive for their learning experience.”

“This capacity is really, really needed in the system.”

Chairman of the committee councillor Robert Foulkes said he was ‘thrilled’ by the move.

He said he hoped the new school would ‘allow children in Lincoln with special needs to receive quality education, and to mix with children of their own age group and not have to travel for miles to get the care they need so it’s wonderful news.

The county council’s executive is expected to sign off on the strategy next month.

The plans are estimated to cost the council £50.6 million over the next five years with the final implementation date for the changes set for September 2023.

Demand for places for special educational needs pupils in the region is expected to increase by 6% by 2023.

Council officers said there is a “clear need” to expand existing schools and increase places.

Schools which fall under the plan and their changes are as follows:

  • St Lawrence School, Horncastle – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 80 to 150.
  • St Bernard’s School, Louth – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 88 to 100.
  • The Eresby School, Spilsby – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 64 to 84.
  • The Sandon School and Ambergate Sports College, Grantham – combine to one school across two sites, cater for all needs and increase capacity from 152 to 229.
  • The Priory School and The Garth School, Spalding – combine to one school across two sites, change cater for all needs and increase capacity from 128 to 177.
  • The John Fielding School, Boston – change to cater for all needs, relocate and increase capacity from 56 to 140.
  • Gosberton House Academy, Gosberton – change to cater for all needs.
  • St Francis School, Lincoln – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 128 to 173.
  • St Christopher’s School, Lincoln – change to cater for all needs.
  • Willoughby School, Bourne – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 80 to 148.

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