£50m plan to increase school places for special educational needs pupils

Lincolnshire County Council headquarters in Lincoln.
Lincolnshire County Council headquarters in Lincoln.

An “ambitious” £50 million shakeup of Lincolnshire’s schools will see an increase of up to 500 places for children with special educational needs, under county council plans.

The move will see the changes carried out over the next five years and include 10 special schools across the region.

It comes as part of a Lincolnshire County Council strategy to increase school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Seven academies and three local authority schools will be altered under the plans, including Gosberton House Academy in Gosberton, Willoughby School in Bourne, Sandon School and Ambergate Sports College in Grantham - all used by Sleaford area children.

It will include such changes as increased capacity, relocation and merging of some schools.

The county council’s executive is expected to sign off on the strategy next month.

The plans are estimated to cost the council £50.6 million over the next five years with the final implementation date for the changes set for September 2023.

Officials at the authority said the strategy will help to increase places for special educational needs pupils and improve journey times for them travelling to school.

Heather Sandy, chief officer for education at the county council, said that the strategy is “ambitious” and will help to meet the needs of parents and pupils.

“What we wanted to do was design a strategy that addressed some of the pressures,” she said.

“We wanted a sustainable strategy where we had Lincolnshire special schools that are fit for purpose and had the buildings and equipment they needed to meet need.

“We also wanted to reduce the journey times that some of our children and young people were having to take.

“They were having to take those journey times because either the schools near them had no places or the school was specialist in an area which did not meet their needs.”

She added that the strategy designed by the council will meet both of those issues.

The idea for the plan will be to make the schools cater for all schools to meet a “wider range of pupils”.

Demand for places for special educational needs pupils in the region is expected to increase by 6% by 2023.

Council officers said there is a “clear need” to expand existing schools and increase places.

Some Sleaford area parents of autistic children attending Gosberton House Academy - an area in which it specialises - had previously expressed concerns about potential effects on the calming environment caused by the changes.

Schools which fall under the plan and their changes are as follows:

St Lawrence School, Horncastle – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 80 to 150.

St Bernard’s School, Louth – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 88 to 100.

The Eresby School, Spilsby – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 64 to 84.

The Sandon School and Ambergate Sports College, Grantham – combine to one school across two sites, cater for all needs and increase capacity from 152 to 229.

The Priory School and The Garth School, Spalding – combine to one school across two sites, change cater for all needs and increase capacity from 128 to 177.

The John Fielding School, Boston – change to cater for all needs, relocate and increase capacity from 56 to 140.

Gosberton House Academy, Gosberton – change to cater for all needs.

St Francis School, Lincoln – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 128 to 173.

St Christopher’s School, Lincoln – change to cater for all needs.

Willoughby School, Bourne – change to cater for all needs and increase capacity from 80 to 148.