The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead has been successful in its bid to the Government to have a new school for children with special educational needs built in the area, further improving local provision for children with complex needs.
The Department for Education has selected the Royal Borough to have one of 33 new Special Free Schools being created nationally, which will allow more children with special educational needs to attend a school locally.
The new school will provide up to 100 places for pupils aged seven to 16 who have a complex range of Social, Emotional and Mental Health and associated needs identified in their Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP).
The planned location for the school forms part of a wider housing-led development site, known as Land West of Windsor, north and south of the A308, which is allocated in the Borough Local Plan.
The Royal Borough will shortly be starting a process to seek proposals from organisations interested in establishing and running the school. The school site and buildings will be built and funded by the Department for Education.
The current ambition is to open the doors to the first pupils within the next three to four years, subject to detailed planning permission, identifying a suitable operator and further project development.
The proposed school will support a key priority of the Royal Borough's SEND Strategy: the development of the right range of specialist provision within the borough to ensure that as many children and young people as possible can be educated in a local educational setting.
Councillor Stuart Carroll, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Education, Health, Mental Health, & Transformation, said: “We’re thrilled to have been successful in our application, meaning we now have the opportunity to provide a new specialist local school to support local children and young people, as part of creating thriving communities.
“We know that pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health EHCPs continue to be the hardest to find appropriate school places for, as their needs are often more complex, related to other neurodiverse, anxiety disorder and attachment needs.
“With no specialist provision for these needs within our borough, such pupils who cannot be educated in a mainstream setting currently attend special schools in other local authority areas, independent schools either inside or outside of our borough, or are educated outside of a school setting, often at home.
“The new special school will address the needs of pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health EHCPs, making provision for the most complex and vulnerable pupils to be educated in a specialist school setting closer to home that meets their specific needs.
“The new school will be a centre of excellence and, in addition to providing an outstanding education to its pupils, will provide support to other schools in the borough through outreach, training and coaching. We therefore look forward to identifying a suitable operator and progressing the next steps with the Department for Education.”
The council is working with the Department for Education on next steps, and will be publishing more information about the proposal and process on the website in the coming weeks.