New Nottinghamshire school to be built to cope with increase in demand

A generic photo of a school. There are 15 empty chairs and a small whiteboard in the classroom
The school will provide specialist support for pupils aged four to 19, but the location of it has not been decided -Credit:Rob Browne

A new school will be built in Nottinghamshire to help tackle the increasing demand for specialist school places, the Government has revealed. A 160-space special free school will be set up in the county as part of an initiative announced by the Department for Education (DfE) on Thursday, May 9.

The school will provide specialist support for pupils aged four to 19, but the location has not been decided yet. The DfE will fund and construct the school, which will help Nottinghamshire County Council towards its target of creating 490 additional SEND and alternative provision places by 2026.

Councillor Sam Smith, cabinet member for education and SEND at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “This is such positive news and very welcomed for the families of children with SEND in Nottinghamshire.” The county council has experienced an increase in requests for education, health and care plans (EHCP), and subsequently in the need for specialist school places, officials said.

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The authority said it had invested more than £5m into creating 97 specialist educational places from 2021 to 2023. The council added it had contributed around £2.5 million towards rebuilding Yeoman Park Academy in Mansfield, which will secure an additional 28 places by early 2025 and was also building a new £20 million special school in the town.

Councillor Smith added: “When appointed to this role in late 2023 I made a commitment to children and young people with SEND, and their families, to do everything possible to ensure that they were able to receive the support they required in a mainstream setting or, where necessary, in a specialist setting as close to their home as possible.

“This new school will offer 160 places for children with SEND and I now look forward to discussions with the Department for Education getting underway as soon as possible.” A competition to find an academy trust to run the school will be launched in the coming days, the DfE explained.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: "Special schools can truly transform children’s lives, enabling pupils with special education needs and disabilities to thrive in environments that meet their needs. Today’s announcement takes us one step closer to our commitment of a record 60,000 more places for children with additional needs."