Over-capacity special schools in Dunstable to benefit from a share of £1.6m Government funding

Education news
Education news

Weatherfield Academy and Chiltern Special School in Dunstable are two of four over-capacity special schools in Central Beds set to benefit from a share of £1.6m government education funding.

Central Beds Council is consulting on proposals to improve school provision for children and young people with special needs after being allocated the cash by the Department for Education.

The funding, which will be made in annual instalments of around £500,000 over three years, can only be used to invest in adapting or expanding buildings and facilities.

The council’s proposed approach is to invest this funding in its four special schools this year – Dunstable’s Chiltern Special School and Weatherfield Academy, plus Oak Bank School in Leighton Buzzard and Ivel Valley Special School in Biggleswade – and look to invest in mainstream schools and other provision in year two and three.

A recent capacity review of special education needs provision showed that all four special schools are over capacity, while a significant 20 per cent increase over the last two years in the number of local children with special needs has added more pressure on these schools.

The council is now consulting on proposals to make some changes internally and add a new modular building to Chiltern Special School. This will increase the number of pupils with more complex needs, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, that can be accommodated in the school

And it is consulting on creating one additional classroom at Weatherfield Academy to cater for a greater number of children with more significant needs and to place children in classrooms according to their needs.

As well as changes for the other two special schools, it is also consulting on where the next two years of funding could best be used to improve SEND provision in mainstream schools.

Cllr Steve Dixon, Executive Member for Families, Education and Children, said: “We already plan for creating more school places and making improvements to school facilities, however, this additional funding means we can do more than we had planned.

“Our recent review has shown that our special schools are over capacity – that means they need more space to be able to provide the best support and education.

“To help us develop our specific proposals we have already engaged with parents, through the Special Needs Action Panel (SNAP) and our special schools.

“This consultation is to help us decide how best to spend this year’s funding and future phases of funding.”

The council wants feedback on these specific proposals for 2018/19 and to hear ideas for the future allocation of this funding.

You can have your say online at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/consultations or you can pick up a paper response form from council offices.

All responses should be received by 5pm on June 29, 2018.