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New special education 'resource bases' recommended for four schools

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

The council has discussed plans to introduce new resource units for special educational needs in four schools across the borough.

In a council cabinet meeting on August 27, the cabinet presented a report that summarises the outcome of informal public consultation on four new ‘resource bases’.

The Royal Borough has received £1.22m capital funding for special provisions from the Government to create these.

“These units are focused on supporting young people who have the academic ability to learn in mainstream schools, but are struggling with autistic spectrum disorder, social, emotional or mental health challenges – and at the moment, find their options limited,” said Mr McDaniels.

The proposals would increase the capacity in schools across the borough to support 40 such young people.

The report recommended four sites for the resource bases: Dedworth Green First School; Furze Platt Primary Federation; South Ascot Village Primary and Wraysbury Primary. It also recommended that formal consultation on those options should now proceed.

“By placing children in these new units, as opposed to sending them out of the borough away from their friends and communities, over time we’ll actually reduce expenditure in the high needs block,” Mr McDaniels added.

At the moment, students with these needs must travel outside of the borough to special schools, rather than the state-funded mainstream schools.

The borough incurs the cost of these schools, plus the transport costs of the student.

The first unit is due to come on stream in September 2021 and the second in 2022.

Once the initial four are underway, the borough hopes to roll the scheme out to further schools that also show promise. The scheme will aim to either hire new professionals to support the special education needs students, or to offer career progression for existing teaching assistants looking to move up.

“This is a very important area dealing with some of our most vulnerable young people and this resource will make a huge difference in terms of their educational attainment and opportunities,” said Cllr Carroll.

When approaching the public for feedback, the Royal Borough found that 94 per cent of the 400 respondents were in favour of the units.

“It’s the highest positive response I’ve seen in any consultation I’ve run in education over the last 12 years,” said Mr McDaniels.

The cabinet voted in favour of the special education resource units.

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