SEN provision in Lancashire has received a huge boost following a series of decisions taken by councillors.
At its cabinet meeting on Thursday, Lancashire County Council agreed proposals to create SEN units at the following schools: Morecambe Bay Community Primary School, Morecambe; Barden Primary School, Burnley; Walverden Primary School, Nelson; Delph Side Community Primary School, Skelmersdale; Highfield Community Primary School, Chorley; Seven Stars Primary School, Leyland and Ashton Community Science College in Preston.
In addition, Conservative councillors gave the green light for feasibility studies and the informal consultation process to establish SEN units at another nine mainstream schools.
They are: Mossgate Primary School, Morecombe; Fleetwood Chaucer Community Primary School, Fleetwood; Fleetwood High School, Fleetwood; Alder Grange Community and Technology School, Accrington; St Augustine’s Roman Catholic High School, Burnley; Colne Primet Academy, Colne; St John’s Catholic Primary School, Skelmersdale; St Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Primary School, Skelmersdale and Penwortham Girls’ High School, Preston.
Unless specified otherwise, the SEN units will be for up to 16 pupils with social, communication and interaction needs.
It comes after the cabinet backed proposals in March to expand two existing special schools: Sir Tom Finney Community High School in Preston and Broadfield Special School in Oswaldtwistle – creating 132 additional places.
At the most recent cabinet meeting, councillors also approved the initiation of the informal consultation process to expand and increase the number of special school places through the development of satellite units across the county linked to established special schools. This will mean that pupils will be on the roll at the special schools, but the buildings will be on current vacant buildings near to the school.
The proposals come off the back of a series of formal consolations ran over the summer and is part of the implementation of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Sufficiency Strategy. The strategy, which was approved by cabinet last October, was developed in response to the increase in demand for specialist SEND provision in particular areas across Lancashire.
Wherever possible children should be educated within their local community, which is why there has been a huge drive to increase the number of SEN units across the county. This is in line with the SEND reforms and SEND code of practice, which makes it clear that children with SEND should be in mainstream schools where appropriate.
The decisions taken at cabinet this week will mean that there will be less dependency on specialist provision.
County Councillor Jayne Rear, cabinet member for education and skills, said increasing Lancashire’s range of specialist provision will ensure “no child is left behind.”
Cllr Rear, who represents Leyland South, said: “The decisions taken by the county council’s cabinet will provide extra provision for children in Lancashire who need additional support.
“Not only have we agreed to create another seven SEN units within mainstream schools, but we will now explore the possibility of creating new SEN units at nine additional mainstream schools. These specialist teaching facilities will help us to support children and young people to achieve their full potential in education and future employment.
“We will also begin informal consultation process to expand and increase the number of special school places through the creation of satellite units in areas that need it most.
“Our children’s education is among our highest priories at Lancashire County Council, and this expansion in our offer will help bridge the gap to ensure that no child is left behind.”