New special needs units proposed in three mainstream Redbridge schools

Mayespark Primary School, Goodmayes. Picture: Google

Mayespark Primary School, Goodmayes. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council is proposing to build new special needs units for children at three mainstream schools in the borough.

The units will be built at Cranbrook Primary School in Ilford, Mayespark Primary School in Goodmayes and Woodbridge High School in Woodford Green.

The proposals are in response to a growing demand for school places for children with special education needs in the borough, the council said.

The two primary schools would offer 14 places - two in each year group - from September 2020 for children with autistic spectrum disorder.

The unit at Woodbridge High School, expected to open within this academic year, would provide short stays for up to 10 pupils in Key Stage 3 with social, emotional and mental health difficulties.

The units at the primary schools will cost £150,000 to build, while the unit at Woodbridge High School is estimated to cost £215,000, the council said.

Schools will also need to recruit additional staff to provide the service, which will be funded by the council.

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It is expected that the new cohort of pupils will spend 25per cent of their time in mainstream classes, but the actual amount will be determined by the needs of the child.

Both headteachers at Cranbrook Primary School and Mayespark Primary School confirmed that a dedicated team of staff were being appointed to teach the new cohort and the new provision would not reduce the amount of staff available to existing pupils.

A public consultation on the proposals, which closed in October, raised concerns about whether enough places are being offered, whether the provision would have a negative impact on services for other children with special needs and how the units would be funded.

Parents and governors have voiced support for the plans and view the new provision as an effective "halfway house" between mainstream and special schools, the council said.

It is anticipated that further proposals for units, which are also known as Additional Resourced Provisions, will be developed for pupils attending mainstream secondary schools.

The proposals will be presented to Redbridge Council's overview committee on November 19 and cabinet on November 25.