Councillor's concern over district's plan for special education needs school
PUBLISHED: 14:07 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:07 14 September 2018
Building a new school for children with special educational needs could cause academies to become 'less inclusive', according to a North Somerset councillor.
Councillor Tom Leimdorfer is worried about the increasing number of children requiring alternative education and has questioned how North Somerset will be able to provide for these pupils in future.
His comments were made at a meeting of North Somerset Council’s executive committee where a draft strategy for education provision in the district from 2018-2021 was approved.
The council’s report says it is working on submitting a bid by October 15 to win Government funding for a new special or alternative provision school from the Department for Education.
The authority has also reached the second stage of bidding for a new secondary school in Weston through the Housing Infrastructure Fund.
But Cllr Leimdorfer wants assurances any new special needs school will not allow mainstream schools to be more selective about the pupils they take on.
He says there is a ‘tremendous amount’ of planning being put into alternative provision to combat the growing number of children not attending school.
Cllr Leimdorfer added: “Some of it is in answer to Ofsted but quite a lot of it is in answer to what seems to be an increased need.
“I know right across the country the number of people who are not at school for one reason or another has increased considerably, particularly as we have more academies.
“There is a lot being written about local authorities’ ability to enforce fair access.
“Even if we have the resources for a new social, emotional and mental health school, and more alternative provision, is it in fact going to end up making it easier for mainstream schools and academies to be less inclusive?”
Other proposals in the draft plan include progressing the creation of a 630-place primary school in the Haywood Village and Locking Parklands area.
The council is also exploring the need for a new primary school in the centre of Weston and completing a 300-pupil expansion project with Priory Community School by the autumn.
North Somerset Council also wants to build a £4million primary school in Yatton’s North End.
An opening date of either September 2020 or 2021 has been set for the school which will have capacity for 210 pupils.