New special school could be built in Hucknall

Two youngsters who are already benefitting from an education at a special school in Nottinghamshire.
Two youngsters who are already benefitting from an education at a special school in Nottinghamshire.

Plans for a new school for youngsters with special educational needs or disabilities that could be built in Hucknall have moved to the next stage.

A £150,000 feasibility study to identify a site to build the 75-place special school got the go ahead at a meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council’s policy committee.

Hucknall has already been pinpointed as a potential location for the school, along with Ollerton in the north of the county.

Coun Kay Cutts, the leader of the council, said: “The new school, planned in either Hucknall or Ollerton, aims to help further address the growing demand to provide more specialist-school places in the county.

“Data has identified that these two areas have the greatest need for investment.

“Being able to fully meet the educational needs of all young people is clearly a priority for the county council, so it is vital to move these plans on to the next stage and avoid any unnecessary delays to the creation of a new specialist school.

“Since 2015, the county council has increased investment on special needs schools, including £2.9 million at Ash Lea Special School in Cotgrave.

“We are currently investing £16.4 million to help rebuild and expand the Newark Orchard Special School, which will initially create 40 new specialist placements.”

The need for a new school in Hucknall or Ollerton, with specialist provision for those with disabilities, has arisen from new statistics relating specifically to Nottinghamshire.

They show that, since 2010, the number of young people with special educational needs across the county has doubled. The rise is almost twice the national increase which, in itself, is 55 per cent.

Nine years ago, there were 1,360 cases of educational need in the county. That had gone up to 1,844 by 2016, and then to 2,499 by 2018.

These increases are mainly attributable to a significant change to the national criteria for special educational needs assessments, including a rise in the upper age-limit from 18 to include 18-to-25-year olds.

If the current trend continues, it is estimated there will be more than 4,000 young people with educational needs in Nottinghamshire by January, 2023.

Growing demand has also led to an increase in commissioning places in the independent sector. Currently, there are more than 450 children and young people with special educational needs being educated in this way.

As the cost of these placements has increased by 50 per cent since 2015, the new school in Hucknall or Ollerton could bring potential savings, financially.

Additional benefits include saving travelling time for many of the young people and their parents.