Councillors back £5m plan to expand school places for children with special needs and disabilities

Published: Friday, November 19, 2021

Councillors have approved a set of proposals to significantly expand provision across local schools for children with special education needs and/or with disabilities (SEND).

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Earlier this week the council’s education and children’s services overview and scrutiny committee approved schemes costing just under £5m to improve support for SEND children in Wandsworth.

The funding will pay for 119 additional places at local schools for children with a range of needs.

These include:

• The establishment of a new resource base at Swaffield primary school in Southfields for up to 16 children with autism (ASD) and/or social, emotional and mental health needs/anxiety (SEMH).

• The establishment of a new resource base at Putney’s Granard primary school for up to 42 children with autism associated with learning difficulty and/or SEMH needs.

• An increase in the authorised capacity of the Savio resource base at St John Bosco College in Battersea from 25 to 45 places in the age range from Year 11 to Year 13

• An increase in the authorised capacity of the Devereux resource base at St John
Bosco College from 7 to 18 places

• An increase in the authorised capacity at Garratt Park Special School from 178 to 210 places;

Money will also be invested in improving classroom capacity at Paddock special school in Roehampton, as well as plans currently being drawn up for a 12 place resource base for pupils with SEMH needs at Burntwood Academy.

Wandsworth already has an extensive range of provision for children and young people with SEND.

Last year there were more than 530 pupils attending Wandsworth’s network of special schools and 246 SEND pupils at mainstream schools. Around £20m was spent supporting these children at school. Another £9m was used to fund SEND children who attend schools in the private and independent sector.

Over the past five years, the number of Wandsworth children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) has increased by 78 per cent. This figure is predicted to increase by a further 8.9 per cent over the next decade.

Some of the children currently attending private or independent special schools, or who are being taught at home, will benefit from this proposed expansion of provision. It will mean some spending less time travelling to out of borough placements, allowing them to spend more time with their peers and make friends in their neighbourhoods, while being able to attend and integrate into their local school and community.

The borough’s director of children’s services Ana Popovici said: “We want Wandsworth to be a place where children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities are everyone’s priority and feel like they belong in an inclusive local community.”

The scrutiny committee’s decision to support these proposals will now be considered by the council’s executive.

• The decision by councillors to expand school places follows hot on the heels of a £153,000 council investment in improving the facilities at a playground on Wandsworth Common designed for use by children with disabilities and special needs.

The Lady Allen playground is run by charity KIDS and supports children with a range of special needs and disabilities. It also receives an annual council grant worth around £138,000 every year to fund its day-to-day operations and staffing costs.

the playground caters for children across the entire range of disabilities. It supports profoundly disabled children with cerebral palsy, visual impairments, hearing impairments, severe developmental delay, children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, children with varying degrees of learning disability, children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, children with ADHD and also children who are still being diagnosed.