Plans to take in 25 extra students at Melton’s Birch Wood Area Special School

The sign outside Birch Wood Area Special School at Melton EMN-190321-150843001
The sign outside Birch Wood Area Special School at Melton EMN-190321-150843001
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Places for 25 extra students will be made available at Melton’s Birch Wood Area Special School if councillors approve new proposals next week.

The Grange Drive school, which teaches more than 160 children, is one of five special schools Leicestershire County Council wants to expand.

It is part of a £20million package of investment in children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) throughout the county.

The authority has also identified schools which could house 15 new bases for SEND youngsters and members will consider the plans at a cabinet meeting on Friday March 29.

If councillors agree, Birch Wood would be extended to provide space for 10 new pupils and existing space will be refurbished to enable 15 more children to be taught there.

The new pupils would have communication and interation needs (C & I) and they would start school there in September next year.

Ivan Ould, cabinet member for children and families at County Hall, said: “We are pleased that we are moving forward with these ambitious plans.

“There is already a range of quality provision in the county for children with SEND.

“However, we need to significantly increase provision to accommodate the increase in demand.

“The new provisions would provide a good geographical spread across Leicestershire which should not only ease pressure on our budgets but should also mean that families will have more support available, often closer to home.”

Wreake Valley Academy, at Syston, is one of the mainstream schools earmarked to host SEND students in specialist units, also known as ‘enhanced resource bases’.

It will be able to take in 15 youngsters with social, emotional and mental health needs this coming September if councillors approve the refurbishment of existing space at the school.

Parents in the process of securing a specialist placement for their child, subject to an education, care and health plan (EHCP) being in place, are being advised to consider the new SEND resource bases proposed.

They are encouraged to contact their local SEN officer or the wider team, by email at senaservice@leics.gov.uk or by calling 0116 305 6600.

A consultation on how the new provisions should look, feel and operate alongside mainstream and/or special schools continues until March 31.

Go online at www.leicestershire.gov.uk/send-consultation to contribute to that.

Watch the cabinet meeting online at www.leicestershire.gov.uk/webcast from 11am on March 29.