Northumberland schools being supported to increase capacity for pupils with additional needs
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Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson, Bamburgh ward member, explained that Northumberland County Council is working with mainstream schools to boost their capacity, and argued mainstream “is the best place” for children.
It comes after the council published its first ever SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) forward plan in November, in response to sky-rocketing numbers of pupils with additional needs.
Between 2013 and 2022, there were an additional 490 children who had an education, health and care plan, which describes the special educational needs of a child or young person aged up to 25. This represented a seven per cent rise every year – and it is expected that there will be another increase of 700 pupils by 2026.
Cllr Renner-Thompson was speaking at a meeting of the family and children’s services overview and scrutiny committee, following a report on the progress of the council’s SEND stratgegy.
He said: “This is a report we can be quite proud of. This is our first-ever county-wide SEND strategy.
“We will never, ever be able to build enough special school places for the amount of special school children we have – but neither do we want to. The best place for a child is within mainstream education, and that is where we want them to stay if that is the right place for them.
“We do that by supporting our mainstream schools as well as increasing our specialist school capacity.”