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Applications open for sponsorship of 19 special free schools

28/07/2017 Joanna

Around 1,600 special free school places are to be created after 19 local authorities opened applications to sponsor new schools.

Special free school competitions have been launched in Bedford, Blackpool, Bradford, Cheshire East, Croydon, Doncaster, Enfield, Essex, Hampshire, Havering, Herefordshire, Hounslow, Manchester, Portsmouth, Redbridge, Sheffield, South Gloucestershire, Suffolk and Sunderland, with 19 new schools set to be opened as a result.

These will provide high-quality education for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), with organisations ranging from successful multi-academy trusts to specialist charitable organisations able to apply. 

Specific criteria have been developed by the local authorities in conjunction with the Department for Education to ensure these new schools meet the needs of each local community.

Examples include a 200-place school with both early years and post-16 places for pupils between the ages of three and 19 in Bedford; a 100-place school offering post-16 provision for pupils with complex communication and interaction needs, autism or other social and mental health needs in Doncaster; and a 150-place school with early years and post-16 provision for pupils between the ages of two to 19 with autism in Croydon.

These new establishments will be part of the wave of 131 free schools approved in April, and are separate from government plans to open 30 free schools in partnership with local authorities, as recently announced by education secretary Justine Greening.

Schools system minister Lord Nash said: "Free schools are providing many good new school places in response to the needs of communities across the country. This process will give local authorities the chance to identify expert organisations with proven track records in SEND provision to run special schools that will help hundreds of children fulfil their potential."

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