Monday, 19th September 2016
LEADING authorities in special education are looking to expand services to meet a regional growth in demand.
LEADING authorities in special education are looking to expand services to meet a regional growth in demand for their expertise.
Specialists at the Education Village Academies Trust, Darlington, are planning to increase provision after being approached by schools from Teesside, North Yorkshire and County Durham.
EVAT employs some of the country’s leading professionals in the education of children with complex needs.
As well as operating the mainstream schools of Haughton, Springfield and Gurney Pease academies, it runs Beaumont Hill special school and the Stephenson Unit and Marchbank Free School, both establishments for children with social, emotional or mental health difficulties.
EVAT is hoping to increase the number of places at Beaumont Hill Academy from 248 to 280, which will involve two extra classes and staff.
School officials are also applying to the Educational Funding Agency and Regional Commissioner for Education for permission to open another free school for older students with with social, emotional or mental health difficulties.
The school would provide specialist education and workshops in which they could receive vocational training in areas such as hairdressing and automotive maintenance.
A public meeting will be held at the Education Village on Tuesday, September 13, at 2.15pm, as part of a consultation on the expansion proposals.
Beaumont Hill Academy head teacher Caroline Green said there was a growing demand for EVAT’s expertise because of changing attitudes towards complex needs and the impact of public sector spending cuts.
She said: “The demand for school places is growing every year and Beaumont Hill is now full and has a waiting list.
“We are very keen that no child who needs a special school place is on a waiting list and so we wish to seek permission to increase numbers.”
Local authorities, including North Yorkshire County Council, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland councils, back the proposals for the free school.
Funding issues have seen a host of vocational providers fall by the way and mainstream schools struggle to meet the needs of those students with behavioural conditions.
Social issues and deprivation are being linked to increasing consumption of alcohol and drugs that can impact on children who then need special educational provision.
The early recognition of autism and drug developments that have helped children with profound difficulties reach school age have also increased demand for places.
EVAT chief executive Mike Butler said: “The trust has built up tremendous expertise and an enviable reputation in the field of complex needs and we are delighted to share this with the wider community.
“The increase in demand reflects a changing mindset around the needs of young people who often have very complex conditions and lives. We can help them reach their full potential and maximise their life chances.”