Westhaven to expand age range for special needs pupils from September

The age range of Westhaven School will expand.Picture: Mark Atherton

The age range of Westhaven School will expand.Picture: Mark Atherton - Credit: Archant

A special school in Uphill is set to expand its provision.

North Somerset Council’s executive approved the expansion in age range of Westhaven School from ages four to 16 to pupils aged four to 19.

The changes will be in effect from September 1.

At its meeting on April 29, the executive also approved an intake of up to 10 pupils across the school’s post-16 provision across the years 12 and 13 cohorts.

The school will increase its overall capacity from 138 places to 156 places following a review of the use of space on the site.

Cllr Catherine Gibbons, the executive member whose portfolio includes education, said: “For most pupils it is appropriate they leave Westhaven at age 16 to access further education.

“But for a small number of some five pupils each year, it would be beneficial if they could continue to access years 12 and 13 studies at Westhaven School to embed life skills further.

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“They would then be better prepared to be more resilient adults before moving onto the further education sector, into apprenticeships, or when gaining employment. I’m very pleased that we’ve made this decision meaning the school can care for some of our children with the most complex of needs.”

There is a projected increase in demand for special school places for pupils with complex learning difficulties due to demographic growth and an increase in the numbers of pupils with these learning characteristics.

Westhaven, in Ellesmere Road, offers places to pupils from across the area aged four to 16 who experience complex barriers to learning for a range of reasons.

A typical student at Westhaven will be working at level one and above, will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may be hyper-sensitive, may suffer from school phobia, have a hearing or sight loss, have moderate learning difficulties or a complex multi-diagnosis.

No new building will be needed to accommodate the post-16 provision but there will be some funding available to turn the current life skills room into a sixth form learning space, using funds provided by the special provisions fund – a government grant intended to enhance or provide new places for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.