Cornwall secures funding for new special free school

Cornwall Council’s bid to establish a new school for children with special educational needs has been successful. As part of a national initiative with the Department for Education this will increase the range of education provision in Cornwall.

The special school will provide 65 places for children, aged from 5 to 16, and become a centre of excellence for pupils who have Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs and education, health and care (EHC) plans.

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Welcoming the news, Portfolio Holder and Cabinet Member for Children and Wellbeing, Sally Hawken, said: “This school will provide much-needed support and provision to some of the most vulnerable children in Cornwall.

“In preparing for this bid we consulted with families, school and education colleagues, and our partners in health and social care identifying the benefits a school like this could bring.  It is thanks to their continued support and input that this bid has been successful.”

Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs, are a type of special educational needs in which young people have significant difficulties in managing their emotions and behaviour which can make it difficult for them to integrate into mainstream school settings.

Sally continued: “Cornwall is geographically challenging and families who need this special provision can often find themselves travelling long distances to get the right kind of support. This new building will enable us to fill a gap in our current services - which will be a huge benefit to children and their families in Cornwall.”

A site in the Bodmin area has been identified, subject to planning permission, as the preferred location because the proximity of the A30 will make the school accessible for children from across Cornwall.

The announcement is part of a government push to create 39 new special free schools across the UK.   In making the announcement Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “Parents rightly want choice of where their child goes to school and to know that the education and support they receive will ignite that spark of potential that exists in all of us, so they can go on and succeed.‎

“We recognise some children require more specialist support. These new special free schools and alternative provision schools will make sure that more complex needs can be provided to help support every child to have a quality education.”

Cornwall Council will now publicise plans for the proposed new school and work with a range of different organisation who may be interested in running the school.  Organisations will have until September 2019 to submit their applications to the Department for Education. It is hoped that the school may open in September 2021.