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Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council’s commitment to improve the education of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) has received a huge boost with news that major funding for a brand-new Free Special School has been secured.

The Department for Education (DfE) confirmed today (Thursday 9 May 2024) that the authority’s bid for investment to help BCP pupils with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) needs was successful.

This means that a new free special school for approximately 180 pupils, aged between three and 19 years and who experience ASC, will be built in Bournemouth within the next two years.
This project is just one part of a programme of improvement initiatives planned by the council that recognise the increasing demand for support for children and young people with SEND and improve access to more quality special school places.

Cathi Hadley, BCP Director of Children’s Services said:
“This investment will help more children with special educational needs and disabilities receive a world-class education.
Confirmation that a new school will be built in our area means we are providing vital specialist spaces for those pupils whose needs cannot be met in mainstream education.
But we also know that many children with SEND enjoy and achieve in mainstream education, and many parents want their children to be supported to stay there where they can.
We have also been working hard with schools, our Parent and Carer Forums and the DfE to increase specialist provision in mainstream schools where needed, so that those children who can enjoy and achieve in mainstream schools are able to do so.
Alongside this work we continue to improve the timeliness of our services, with the backlog of Educational Health Care Plans (EHCPs) and Educational Psychologist (EPs) advice both reducing.
We know it has been difficult for families to navigate the SEND system, but today’s fantastic announcement of funding, and our improvement work, shows that we are committed to achieving the best for all the children and young people in BCP who need extra support to fulfil their full potential.”

News of this investment follows last month’s announcement of a brand-new Dingley’s Promise centre in Bournemouth.
BCP Council worked closely with the charity to provide a new nursery assessment centre to support children under five with SEND and their families.
The new centre aims to give children the best possible start in life by providing specialist support tailored to each child to help with their onward journey.
As part of the council’s commitment to specialist provision, conversations with the DfE are continuing around a separate application for c£5m capital funding to support the creation of a further specialist SEND provision for BCP’s children and young people.

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