More school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities

The number of school places in the borough for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is set to increase following a £1 million investment by Kingston Council.

Members of the council’s treasury committee unanimously agreed to finance capital projects at both St Philips and Hollyfield schools.

St Philip’s is a special school in Chessington for children and young people aged 11 to 19 who have moderate learning difficulties. The committee allocated £570,000 for the construction of a new building on site, which, subject to planning permission, will enable 32 additional children per year (across Years 5 and 6), to be educated closer to home from an earlier age.

The provision of £440,000 for The Hollyfield school in Surbiton will help meet the need within the borough for additional secondary-phase school places for children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and complex needs.

The Hollyfield, which already has plans for expansion, could, subject to planning permission, accommodate up to 20 children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans who would otherwise be educated outside the borough.

Councillor Richard Hudson, Kingston Council’s portfolio holder for schools and special educational needs, said:

"We want all children and young people in Kingston to lead happy, healthy and independent lives, therefore it's imperative that we increase the capacity and range of local, state-funded SEND school provision within the borough. 

"Expecting children with special educational needs to travel out of borough places undue stress on them and their families, which can impact their wellbeing.

"Children that are educated in their local community, where they feel safe, confident and supported, are more likely to achieve their full potential."

There are three avenues being explored to increase provision within the borough - more places in mainstream schools i.e maintained and academy schools; more specialist resource provisions based in mainstream schools; and more special school places.

A number of mainstream schools have expressed an interest in accommodating specialist resource provision. The full list of proposals, most of which could be implemented in 2019, will be subject to consultation this March.