New SEND units to open at two Southampton schools

New SEND units to open at two Southampton schools

Senior councillors HAVE signed off on the plans for additional provision at Woodlands Community College in Harefield and St Mary’s CE Primary School.

The unit at Woodlands, which would specifically be for girls with social, emotional and mental health needs, will involve a £250,000 investment to set up.

The proposed profile of pupils for placements at the secondary school currently have no alternative options in Southampton, whereas there is a provision for boys in the city.

The plan for St Mary’s has no additional cost as the existing environment at the school can accommodate the unit, which will be based on a similar model at Millbrook’s Mason Moor Primary School.

Southampton City Council's headquarters at the Civic CentreSouthampton City Council’s headquarters at the Civic Centre

Using the school’s existing environment, the primary school unit would provide specialist bespoke support for children with complex needs.

Both new facilities would initially build up to welcoming eight pupils, with the Woodlands provision capable of increasing to 12 in the future.

Cabinet members approved the proposals at a meeting on Tuesday, June 25.

Cllr Alex Winning, cabinet member for children and learning, said the city is at capacity for special school places at secondary and primary level.

He added that while there was a capital cost of £250,000, if the plan was not progressed children would be left needing to be placed outside of the city.

Cllr Winning said this was not good for the children, their families or the council, with it resulting in higher cost placements and further pressure on the school transport budget.

“These places as well would be able to provide a bridge back to mainstream for students if that is appropriate, which I think is really important for inclusion.

“The placements at Woodlands specifically would initially be for girls with social, emotional and mental health needs and that was identified as being a gap in our recent Ofsted inspections.

“I think this will demonstrate that we are really taking forward those recommendations and being proactive and providing the support that’s needed.”

READ MORE: Southampton schools given new Ofsted ratings

A public consultation in relation to both units concluded in January.

Cllr Winning said there was “broad support” with 72 per cent of respondents agreeing with the plans for St Mary’s and 69 per cent agreeing with the proposals for Woodlands.

There are no set-up costs for St Mary’s as the school currently has two empty classrooms that could be used for the new provision.

The unit at Woodlands would have its own building, with toilet facilities and an outdoor space. Pupils would be supported by a dedicated team of staff in the setting.

Placements at the units will be funded per pupil through the higher needs budget in line with the funding for other special schools and units in Southampton.

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