School places for children with special educational needs to increase for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Local special school, Winchelsea is set to increase the number of school places available for children with special educational needs with the set up of a satellite provision at Somerford Primary School, Christchurch in time for September 2021.

Councillors at BCP Council’s Cabinet meeting on 10 February 2021 will be asked to consider the proposal which aims to meet the increasing demand for special school places locally as well as reducing the costs associated with transporting children to special school provision outside of the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area.

The proposal sets out that Winchelsea will provide an additional 60 key stage 1 and key stage 2 places at Somerford Primary School. In line with falling birth rates and demand in the area the school admission numbers for Somerford has reduced to 30 from 60. The school building will be repurposed so that an increase in special school places can be accommodated.

Councillor Nicola Greene, Portfolio Holder for Covid Resilience, Public Health and Education said: ”I am pleased to announce the development of additional good quality school places for children and young people with special educational needs to meet local demand. Supporting our inclusive approach, Winchelsea School are developing a satellite provision at Somerford Primary School providing specialist education for reception to year four pupils. The satellite provision will provide additional capacity across the school and enable them to offer education to pupils over 16 years old on their existing site. The special school will be increasing capacity over the next two years initially offering an additional 25 places in September 2021."

It is estimated that by expanding special school provision at Somerford Primary School by 60 places, this will reduce the budget pressure on the High Needs fund by approximately £1.5M as children will not need to be placed in more expensive special schools outside of the area.

Linwood School currently has a satellite provision at Somerford School with 14 pupils currently attending. Work is underway to identify a suitable alternative location within Christchurch.

Posted on Monday 25 January 2021