28 January 2019
Approval has been granted for the opening of two new specialist-free schools, which will offer places to children with complex social, emotional and mental health needs.
Due to open in September 2020, the new schools will be based in Hounslow and Chelmsford.
Managed by Orchard Hill College Academy Trust, the Hounslow-based school will provide 64 specialist places for pupils aged between 11 and 19.
Welcoming the announcement by the Department for Education (DfE), Councillor Tom Bruce said that, with the number of children diagnosed with having special educational needs and disabilities rising in recent years, the facility will help meet the increased demand for school places and will support many children in the borough.
In Chelmsford, Essex, a further 64 places will be offered to pupils aged seven to 16 by the Beckmead Trust on the site of the former St Peter’s College.
“We are delighted that the Beckmead Trust has been appointed by the Department for Education to open a new special school in Chelmsford,” Councillor Ray Gooding said.
The new school will, he added, ensure that pupils with a range of complex needs are fully supported within an appropriate environment and given the best chance to thrive.
Also commenting on the announcement was Children and Families Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, who said that his ambition for children with special educational needs is the same as for any other child — to achieve well in their education, find employment and live a happy, fulfilled life.
While acknowledging that “every school is a school for children with special education needs”, Mr Zahawi pointed out that parents want choice when it comes to educating their children and that the two new special-free schools in Chelmsford and Hounslow will help children with additional needs acquire the skills they need to fulfil their potential.