Parents and residents are being encouraged to have their say on plans to create almost 100 new special school places across Essex.
Essex County Council wants to create 94 new places by September 2019 as the first phase of its record investment in special needs schools.
The council reaffirmed its commitment to spend up to £85million on creating about 400 new special school places over the next three to five years when its budget was approved earlier this month.
The £85milllion includes £42million which has been allocated by the Essex Schools Forum and up to £43million of Essex County Council capital funding.
The first projects to benefit are expected to include:
•The relocation and expansion of Lexden Springs School, Colchester, which would create 50 extra places, including 30 boarding places
•20 new boarding places at Glenwood School, Benfleet (in addition to the expansion and relocation of the school that has already been approved and is due to be completed for September 2017)
•The expansion of Oak View School, Loughton, which would create 24 new places for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder
A consultation about the plans is now open and people are being encouraged to have their say on the proposals before the March 31 deadline.
To find out more and take part in the consultation, please visit www.essex.gov.uk/schoolconsultations
Alternatively, consultation events are scheduled as follows:
•Tuesday, 7 March (3.30pm – 5.30pm) – Glenwood School, Rushbottom Lane, Thundersley, Benfleet, SS7 4LW
•Wednesday, 8 March (2.30pm – 4.30pm) – Oak View School, Whitehills Road, Loughton, IG10 1TS
•Thursday, 9 March (3.30pm – 5.30pm) – Lexden Springs School, Halstead Road, Colchester, CO3 9AB
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “It is absolutely vital that the county’s schools are equipped to meet pupils’ individual needs.
“These plans would go a long way towards helping meet the increased demand for special school places in Essex and reduce the need for children to be educated at independent special schools or outside the county.
“Our ambitious new budget, which included up to £85million for creating new special school places, reiterates our commitment to ensuring all pupils receive the best possible education.
“I am delighted the first phase of special school projects are beginning to move forward and would encourage people to have their say on our proposals to expand these excellent and popular schools.”