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No take up for special needs school places in Whitchurch

Whitchurch | Politics | Published:

A bid to bring special education needs places to schools around the county has seen no take-up in one town.

Shirehall in Shrewsbury where the council will decide on extra places

Shropshire Council is looking to invest around £50,000 at five primary and secondary schools to create around 10 places at each.

But following discussions with schools across the county at the end of last year the north east, which includes Whitchurch, has been the only region where a potential school has failed to come forward despite there being a large concentration of learners with special educational needs and disabilities in the town.

Members of Shropshire Council’s Cabinet were today set to discuss provision across the county.

Karen Bradshaw, director of Children and Young People’s Services said: “The number of learners who are also able to access the mainstream curriculum, but who struggle to cope in mainstream classrooms due to sensory overload, social difficulties and high levels of anxiety, is increasing.

“In order to achieve positive outcomes and prepare effectively for adulthood, these learners require smaller group sizes, the right sensory environment and staff who are able to provide identified specialist support.

“When appropriately supported, these learners can significantly benefit from being integrated on a mainstream school site, which provides access to specialist teaching facilities, a broad curriculum and subject specialist teaching staff as well as maximising opportunities for children and young people to interact with mainstream peers for some aspects of their learning and/or social interaction.”

The funding will come from a three-year £600,000 capital fund allocated by the Government to support children and young people up to the age of 25.

The schools will be satellites of one of the county’s existing special schools but would mean learners did not have to travel as far to access their education.

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Ms Bradshaw added: “Consultation with parents confirms their preference for a wider range of choice and a recognition of the limited options regarding specialist provision currently available locally.

“A number of parents specifically highlighted the lack of choice for learners with significant learning difficulties, with access to only one in-county special school.

“There was more widespread recognition of larger gaps were in relation to the lack of provision for learners with social, communication difficulties and Autism Spectrum Condition.”

A consultation on the creation of 10 places at Whittington Primary School ends on Sunday, while those for St Andrew’s Primary School in Nesscliffe, Acorns Hub at Bishops Castle Community College and Oldbury Wells School in Bridgnorth are due to go live in September 2019.

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