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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Kirklees Council expands special education capacity: More support and opportunities for students with complex needs

Demand for places is increasing across the borough

More school places are on the way for Kirklees students with special educational needs as Kirklees Council gives the go-ahead for a school expansion.

Woodley School and College, which caters for pupils up to the age of 19 with complex autism, will increase its places to 194 over time, helping to meet the increased demand across the district. A public consultation has already taken place, with respondents showing a high level of support for the proposals and the expansion has now been approved by members of the council’s Cabinet.

Speaking at the recent meeting, Chair of the Governing Body of Woodley School and College, Ms Hobson welcomed the proposals and said: “We now have 159 on roll – that was the latest number on Friday (8 February). We very much value the quality of the specialist work that is provided for young people and their families there.

“There is a need to respond to increasing numbers. We need facilities which give different but equal opportunities to our students with very complex autism needs.”

Longer term, Woodley is also due to move into a brand new facility as part of the council’s plans to improve support for children and young people with SEND. The new site in Almondbury will better meet the needs of pupils and will involve a multi-million pound investment from the council.

Cllr Viv Kendrick, Cabinet member for children. Image: LDRS

Following the meeting, Cllr Viv Kendrick, Cabinet member for children, said: “Increasing pupil places will enable more children and young people with complex autism to secure places and thrive in a local educational setting.

“Creating more SEND provision within Kirklees helps to meet local needs, reduces travel times for children and families and supports pupils to fulfil their potential.

“Children and young people with complex needs often make better, more sustained progress when they attend a setting with access to specialist teaching, support staff and resources. This can be in a variety of settings, including special schools.

“The expansion of Woodley is an exciting development. It will enhance support for local children, both now and in the future, and is just one way that the council is developing SEND provision throughout Kirklees.

“The number of places will increase gradually, leading up to the school moving to its new and better facility – the building of which will be another fantastic step forward.

“We want all children and young people in Kirklees, especially those who need our help the most, to enjoy the best possible start in life.”

Woodley is not the only Kirklees special school due to relocate to a new facility as Joseph Norton Academy – which caters for pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties – is also planned to move. Here, 132 places will be available, with the current academy in Sciscett offering 63 places.

The new premises for both Woodley and the Joseph Norton Academy are anticipated to be completed in 2026.

On top of this, the council, and its partner Delta Academies Trust recently received government approval to open a new school for pupils with additional needs. Planning for the new school is getting underway and it is expected that over 100 places will be available.

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