New special school in the Royal Borough

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The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has been successful in its bid to open a new special free school in the borough.

Key facts

The school will be:

  • for children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans for Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs.
  • for children and young people aged 7 to 16 (national curriculum year groups 3 to 11).
  • for up to 100 children and young people.
  • located in a new development planned on the western edge of Windsor (identified in the Borough Local Plan as AL21 West of Windsor).
  • opening from September 2025 or 2026 (to be confirmed).
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Why are we opening a new special school?

The number of children and young people living in the borough who have Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) continues to rise.  We expect, by 2029:

  • a 19% rise in the number of children and young people with EHCPs.
  • a 66% rise in the number of children and young people with EHCPs for Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs.

Although the Royal Borough does already have two special schools and seven Resource Bases (with up to five more expected to open over the next few years), none of these are specifically for children and young people with SEMH needs.  This means that many of these pupils have to attend schools outside the borough and/or in the independent sector.  The proposed new school will mean we can educate more of our children and young closer to their homes and communities.

The school will help the borough deliver on its 5 year Special Educational Needs strategy which includes, as a priority:

"Development of the right range of specialist provision with RBWM to ensure that as many children and young people as possible can be educated in a local educational setting is a priority. There needs to be a range of provision to support parental choice and this needs to include more SEMH provision and a five-day week offer for post-16 young people."

Where will the new school be located?

The Royal Borough's Borough Local Plan, adopted in 2022, included a site for a new special school to help meet the extra demand likely to arise from the planned new housing in the borough.  

The proposed site is within a larger housing development planned on the western edge of Windsor (south of the A308 and east of Oakley Green Road).  The developer of the site has submitted an outline planning application, which includes a 2.2 hectare site for a special school.  You can view that planning application on the borough website here, using the following reference number 22/01354/OUT.  The outline planning application has been approved (see item 105) by the council, subject to various conditions being met.  A separate planning application will be required, in due course, for the school itself.

What are the next steps?

As the new school will be a free school, a competition must be held to find a 'proposer' to run the new school.  This competition will now be carried out by the Department for Education (DfE), with input from the local authority. 

The DfE have released their 'How to apply' guidance which sets out the process in more detail.  Applicants should note that they will need to pre-register their interest by 5pm on Friday 16 June 2023.  Completed applications will then need to be submitted to the DfE by noon on Thursday 31 August 2023.

The local authority has prepared its specification document, setting our our requirements for the new school.  We have also published some contextual information.  Both of these documents are available below and together these mean that all potential proposers will have the same information.

The Royal Borough will hold an engagement event, inviting interested proposers to discuss the school, the local context and the borough's strategic special educational needs plans.  

Sponsors will then submit their applications to the DfE, before being interviewed by a panel including a representative from the Royal Borough.  The DfE will then make its decision.

The timetable for this is:

  • Tuesday 9 May 2023 - the DfE publishes its 'How to apply' guidance for proposers.
  • Tuesday 9 May 2023 - the DfE and Royal Borough publish the specification document and contextual information.
  • May/June 2023 - the Royal Borough is running engagement event for prospective proposers (see below).
  • Friday 16 June 2023 - the pre-registration window for proposers closes.
  • Thursday 31 August 2023 - the application window for proposers closes.
  • end October 2023 - the DfE will complete their assessment of applications from proposers.
  • Winter 2023 - the DfE will interview proposers, along with a representative from the Royal Borough.
  • January 2024 - successful proposers will be announced.

Engagement events

The Royal Borough will be hosting two engagement events for prospective sponsors, on:

  • Friday 26 May 2023, 12pm to 2pm (online meeting).
  • Wednesday 7 June 2023, 3pm to 5pm (face to face meeting).

Please contact us at for more details and the link to the online meeting.  

Documents and links

All documents and links relating to this process will be available via this page.

Documents - clicking on the links below will download the documents.

  1. Specification for a new special school in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
  2. Contextual information for a new special school in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

Questions and answers

This will be added to, as new questions are asked.

Why is the school only for 7 to 16 year olds, with no places for sixth formers? 

We expect that the new school will give children and young people the right support so that they can move onto local further education colleges at the end of Year 11.  The school will help prepare young people for adulthood and promote independence, avoiding any dependency that might arise from staying on in the school to age 18.

How can I find out more?

If you have any questions about the new special school, please contact us at the email below.  We will keep this page regularly updated.

School support services : Contact details

For further information, please contact us by:

School support services - Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead
Town Hall, St Ives Road
Maidenhead SL6 1RF