Hal­ton to get free school for pupils with needs

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page -

HAL­TON Coun­cil’s cabi­net has backed a plan to lo­cate a free school for stu­dents with so­cial and men­tal health needs in the bor­ough in a joint project that would serve St He­lens as well as Widnes and Run­corn.

Coun­cil­lors gave the green light for the lo­cal author­ity to sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion for the scheme at Oc­to­ber’s ex­ec­u­tive board meet­ing.

Although the de­ci­sion means any free school will be si­t­u­ated in Hal­ton, no lo­ca­tion has been de­cided.

The coun­cil will be ex­pected to pro­vide a site, ei­ther for free or for a low to­ken-ges­ture rent.

With St He­lens be­ing north of the River Mersey, it re­mains to be seen it the tolls on the Mersey Gate­way bridge will make Widnes a more likely lo­ca­tion than Run­corn.

The project is in­tended to plug a gap in suit­able school ac­cess for pupils with so­cial, emo­tional and men­tal health needs (SEMH) that has left SEMH pupils be­ing pro­vided with ex­pen­sive in­de­pen­dent ed­u­ca­tion.

It is an­tic­i­pated that the fa­cil­ity would serve 50 pupils aged 11 to 16.

Min­utes pub­lished fol­low­ing the ex­ec­u­tive board meet­ing said the pro­posed free school would ‘of­fer a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for fifty pupils with SEMH, as well as cater­ing for a range of other is­sues in­clud­ing at­ten­tion-deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity disor­der and autism spec­trum disor­der’.

A re­port pro­vided to cabi­net mem­bers said Hal­ton could half the amount spends on pro­vid­ing in­de­pen­dent school­ing to SEMH pupils.

It said that the cost of a spe­cial free school for 25 stu­dents would cost around £650,000, but that fig­ure bal­loons to £1.35m, plus travel, for in­de­pen­dent places.

The move fol­lows the is­su­ing of guid­ance from the Depart­ment For Ed­u­ca­tion in July, call­ing for coun­cils to es­tab­lish spe­cial schools in their ar­eas and to work with other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to do so.

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