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New special school to help children reach their full potential

Published
30.09.2019

Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet is being asked to approve the build of a new special school for children with social, emotional and mental health needs.

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On 9 October, cabinet will be asked to approve over £7.5 million to fund the new school, which will open in 2022.

Social, emotional and mental health specialist schools support children with a range of different needs, which may include attachment difficulties, anxiety, depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity. Sometimes these result from traumatic childhood events or a result of underlying medical conditions. These needs, which may lead to children becoming withdrawn and isolated or showing challenging behaviour, can make it difficult for children to succeed in mainstream schools.

Each child is different but the national picture shows the vast majority of children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs do not make the same level of academic progress as their peers, and by age 20 only 30 percent have a qualification. This SEMH specialist school will help those children who can’t currently reach their full potential in a mainstream school and support them to return to mainstream education where possible.

The proposed site for the school is in Brockworth, which would be easily accessible to both Gloucester and Cheltenham where there is the highest level of demand for this type of specialist education.

It will provide 75 places for girls and boys aged 11 to 16, who currently have to travel to schools out of county or to independent schools to meet their specific needs. It is estimated this will save the council almost £2 million per year in placement and transport costs, and will mean that these pupils can access the education they need closer to home.

Cllr Patrick Molyneux, cabinet member for economy, education and skills, commented: “Our priority is to make sure all children in Gloucestershire get the education they deserve, which is why we are investing over £100 million into our schools.

“National statistics show that children with social, emotional and mental health needs often don’t reach the same level of progress as their peers and it is vital that we improve the life chances of these children.”

Cabinet will also be asked to approve £215,000 to adapt and extend Belmont Special School so they can support a greater number of children, and £75,000 for improvements at the Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Alternative Provision School (CTAPS).

Read the full cabinet report for the SEMH school.

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