Thousands of places created in new special free schools
Over 3,000 extra school places at 37 new free schools are to be created across the country for pupils with the most complex needs, to open from September 2022.
33 schools trusts have been approved to open 37 free schools, two of which are for pupils who have been or are at risk of being excluded; the other 35 will be special schools for pupils with needs such as autism, severe learning difficulties, SEMH and SLCN. This is to be welcomed, given that there was an increase of 6,400 pupils attending state special schools in 2019-20, leading to an increase in average numbers at these schools from 120 to 129 (‘School pupils and their characteristics’, DfE, June 2020); the sector is under considerable pressure and new places are very much needed.
The schools are spread across the nine regions of England:
- 3 in the North East: 200 places, SEMH
- 6 in the North West: 400 places, SEMH, ASD, SLD, SLCN
- 5 in Yorkshire and the Humber: 500 places, SEMH, ASD, SLD, PMLD, SLCN
- 1 in the East Midlands: 50 places, SEMH
- 3 in the West Midlands: 300 places, SEMH, ASD, SLCN; 2 Alternative Provision schools, 100 places
- 3 in the East of England: 300 places, SEMH, ASD, SLCN
- 4 in London: 300 places, SEMH, ASD, SLCN
- 4 in the South East: 300 places, SEMH, ASD
- 6 in the South West: 500 places, SEMH, ASD, complex LD, SLCN