£85 million investment in new special school places

Essex County Council is set to spend approximately £85 million to create more than 400 new special school places across the county.

With £42 million being provided by the Essex Schools Forum, and the remaining £43 million in the way of capital funding from Essex County Council, the record investment follows an increase in the number of young people in the county being diagnosed with autism and with a growing demand for special school places.

New plans, which are not yet confirmed, are likely to include: 24 new places in the Braintree district for pupils with severe physical and neurological needs; a new 70-place school for children with social, emotional and mental health needs in the Chelmsford area; 80 additional places for pupils with severe needs in the Colchester area; 20 new boarding places for pupils with severe needs in the Castle Point/Rochford area; and 24 new places for pupils with autism or social emotional and mental health needs in the Epping Forest district.

Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “As with mainstream school places, demand for special school places is growing and I am delighted these exciting plans are moving forward.

“We already have some excellent special schools in Essex, with every single one in the county currently rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted.

“However, more capacity is still needed if we are going to reduce the distance young people are having to travel to school and meet the needs of the rising number of children being diagnosed with autism in Essex.”

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