Plans to create addition special school places at West Lancashire Community High School to meet increasing demand in the south of the county will be considered by councillors next week.
West Lancashire Community High School is a special school for pupils aged between 11 and 19 years with generic learning difficulties and/or autism. Lancashire County Council is proposing to create up to 50 additional special school places through the development of satellite provision in the Children’s Centre that is on the site of St John’s Catholic Primary School, Skelmersdale.
The site being proposed is a vacant building that was previously used as a Children’s Centre and has the potential to provide up to between 40 and 50 additional special school places. The building is co-located with St John’s Catholic Primary School in Skelmersdale and is 2.5 miles away from the main West Lancashire Community High School site.
The governing bodies of both schools are supportive of the proposal in principle. The proposal is being put forward now to ensure there are sufficient special school places for pupils in September 2023.
At its next meeting on Thursday 1 December, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet will be asked to approve the next steps to take the proposal forward, which includes informal and formal consultations.
The proposal is part the implementation of the council’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Sufficiency Strategy, which was developed in response to the increase in demand for specialist SEND provision in particular areas across Lancashire.
Cllr Jayne Rear, cabinet member for education and skills at Lancashire County Council, said: “Despite significant investment in SEN units attached to mainstream schools and the creation of more special school places across the county, keeping up with demand remains a significant challenge.
“We have previously identified that there is a need for special school places in the south area of county for secondary aged pupils with learning difficulties.
“The proposal to develop satellite provision linked to West Lancashire Community High School will help meet that demand and ensure there are sufficient special school places for pupils in September 2023.
“That is why we are asking cabinet to support the proposal so we can move at pace to take the plans forward.”