Dozens of new SEND school places created to serve growing numbers of pupils who need specialist resource
New school places and state-of-the-art facilities for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have opened across the borough as part of Hackney Council’s ambitions to rapidly improve and expand specialist provision locally.
The Council has created 84 new places in order to better serve the growing number of students who need specialist teaching and support in Hackney and reduce their need to travel to suitable schools in other areas.
- Fifty new post-16 places at a specially built site at The Garden School - which opened this month.
- Fourteen new places at the expanded Ickburgh School - created last year.
- Ten new places for students with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs at Gainsborough Primary School - created last year.
- Ten new places for students with Autistic Spectrum Condition at Queensbridge Primary School - created in 2020.
Children learn from specialist teachers and a dedicated curriculum, while remaining a core part of their school communities and accessing activities with their fellow students where appropriate.
The Council now needs to find another 300 places for children with additional needs, following a 49% increase over the last five years in the number of children locally identified as needing specialist support. Government funding for SEND provision has not risen in line with need and the Council has long-called for action to tackle this.
In the meantime, to meet demand, the Council is now seeking to work with schools where there are falling pupil numbers and where there will likely be space and resource to expand SEND places.
The move is part of the Council’s Education Sufficiency and Estates Strategy, approved last night by the Council Cabinet, which looks at the urgent SEND need as well as options to counter the local impact of the London-wide trend of falling rolls.
We have created some world-class SEND provision in the past two years: inclusive places and settings that provide high-quality teaching and learning environments where children feel that they belong. We remain focused on the changing and evolving community we serve. We know we need to do more to accommodate the year-on-year increase in numbers of children and young people who need to access specialist SEND provision while at the same time helping schools tackle the falling numbers of mainstream school-age children and young people in Hackney.
We are fully committed to increasing SEND places locally, which best meet children and young people’s needs, ensuring they can go to school in their local communities, reducing the need to travel to neighbouring boroughs, and encouraging their engagement in local activities and school councils.
The creation of these additional places and buildings mark the start of a dedicated period of local investment in SEND provision. However, we’re working in the face of inadequate Government funding of SEND services resulting in a £13m shortfall in Hackney at the same time as local need increases.
We are determined to take action to respond to these challenges head-on and in a child-focused way to stay true to our ambitions by creating these new places in incredible schools and settings. But the Government must step up too - and give the support that children and young people in Hackney need.