Trust selected to run new academy in Biggleswade for youngsters with social, emotional and mental health needs

It will create 130 school places
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A Biggleswade school that will provide much needed places for youngsters with social, emotional and mental health needs has moved a step closer.

Oak Bank School Trust has been selected to run a new, yet to be named, SEMH Academy in Biggleswade, which will provide 130 places in Bedfordshire for pupils aged five to 19 with special needs.

And the Government has announced today that councils in the East of England will receive a cash injection of over £83 million to create new places for young people with special educational needs and disabilities or who require alternative provision.

The finding will create spaces for SEND youngsters in Biggleswade - Photo Ben BirchallThe finding will create spaces for SEND youngsters in Biggleswade - Photo Ben Birchall
The finding will create spaces for SEND youngsters in Biggleswade - Photo Ben Birchall

The funding will be used to create new places in mainstream and special schools, as well as other specialist settings, and to improve the suitability and accessibility of existing buildings.

This will provide specialist support for children with autism, learning difficulties, mobility difficulties and more to meet their extra needs, including extra encouragement in their learning, help communicating with other children and support with physical or personal care difficulties, such as using the toilet or getting around the school safely.

It’s is part of an £850 million investment being made to councils across England, forming the final part of £2.6 billion committed by the Government to improve provision between 2022 and 2025.

When combined with places already being created by the special free schools programme, this funding is creating over 60,000 new places across the country.

Cllr Hayley Whitaker, E xecutive member for families, education and children, at Central Bedfordshire Council said: “We are delighted that the regional schools commissioner approved our recommendation for Oak Bank to run the new special school. This is an exciting time as we continue working to deliver on our promise to expand our Central Bedfordshire school places for our SEND children and young people and we look forward to working with Oak Bank to help young people in the area get the most out of their education.”

Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, David Johnston said: "This government has been creating tens of thousands of special school places so that children who can't have their needs met in mainstream schools get the right type of school place to meet their needs.

“This transformative funding will put local authorities in the East of England on track to support all children to reach their potential, and get the right support, in the right place at the right time.”

It comes as two successful trusts have been selected to run special free schools in the East of England, providing 247 new school places. This marks a significant step forward in opening the new schools and will further expand provision to address the current shortfall.

New guidance is being published today for organisations that want to roll out the Alternative Provision Specialist Taskforce model.

Alternative Provision Specialist Taskforces are teams of specialists such as mental health therapists, speech and language therapists, and youth and family workers co-located in an AP school to provide joined up support to keep children engaged in education.

It comes just over a year on from the publication of the Government’s SEND and AP Improvement Plan which sets out how the government will improve the system to delivers timely, high-quality services and support in mainstream settings, alongside access to more high-quality specialist settings, where required.

It is backed up by significant investment into the high needs budget, which will have risen by over 60 per cent to over £10.5 billion next year compared with 2019-20.

In addition to our capital investment, schools are benefitting from the highest levels of funding in history totalling more than £60 billion. This Government’s record investment, is helping to deliver on plans to ensure every child gets a world-class education.