The number of school places in the borough for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is set to increase with up to £1million in investments from Kingston Council.
Members of the council’s treasury committee unanimously agreed to inject funding into development projects at both St Philips and Hollyfield schools, which will increase spaces for pupils who require additional support in their learning.
The committee allocated £570,000 to St Philip’s in Chessington, a specialist school for children and young people aged 11 to 19 who have moderate learning difficulties, for the construction of a new building on site. Subject to planning permission, this will enable 32 additional children per year (across Years 5 and 6), to be educated closer to home from an earlier age.
Ben Walsh, headteacher at St Philips, said: “Parents are often approaching me to say they wished their son or daughter had joined St Philip’s sooner.
“We now have an excellent opportunity to make that wish a reality.”
A provision of £440,000 has also been granted to The Hollyfield School in Surbiton to help meet the need within the borough for additional secondary-phase school places for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and complex needs.
Tom Maltby, headteacher at The Hollyfield School, said that having specialist provision implemented on the site will provide special educational needs pupils with further opportunities to learn in mainstream lessons.
“It will also enable students to socialise with all young people within our local community. This would be a great opportunity for both students and their families,” he said.
The Hollyfield, which already has plans for expansion, could accommodate 20 additional children and young people with education, health and care plans who would otherwise be educated outside the borough.
Councillor Richard Hudson, Kingston Council’s portfolio holder for schools and special educational needs, said:
“We want all children and young people in Kingston to lead happy, healthy and independent lives, therefore it’s imperative that we increase the capacity and range for local, state-funded SEND school provision within the borough.
“Expecting children with special educational needs to travel out of the borough places undue stress on them and their families, which could impact their wellbeing.
“Children that are educated in their local community, where they feel safe, confident and supported, are more likely to reach their full potential.”
Three avenues are being explored to increase support for SEND pupils within the borough: more places in mainstream schools, more specialist provision in mainstream and more special school places.
A number of mainstream schools have expressed an interest in accommodating specialist resource provision.
The full list of proposals for the funding, most of which could be implemented in 2019, were subject to consultation this month.