Plans progressed for school and early years projects totalling nearly £3 million

Hampshire County Council has agreed to a range of proposals that could bring more good news for schools and early years settings across the county

Mar 17 2023

The first of these proposals could increase and improve provision for children with special educational needs in mainstream schools in Farnborough, Waterlooville and Fareham.  Councillor Steve Forster, the County Council’s Executive Member for Education, agreed at his Decision Day on 15 March to consult on proposals which, if finally approved, would enhance provision for children with a combination of Autism Spectrum Condition, Hearing Loss, and Speech, Language and Communication needs.  

Councillor Forster said: “Like Local Authorities nationally, we continue to see exceptional pressure for school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). We are committed to further developing and increasing our specialist provision, to help keep pace with growing demand and reduce the need for more costly independent and non-maintained provision. An important part of our response to this is ensuring that our mainstream schools are inclusive and that children can have their needs effectively met in these settings, wherever possible and appropriate. I have agreed to consult on proposals relating to SEND provision in three mainstream settings and would encourage families and communities local to these schools to share their views as part of this process.” 

Following Councillor Forster’s approval, statutory public notices will now be published for a period of four weeks in March/April, to consult on three proposals. The public notices will be displayed at the appropriate school sites, circulated to relevant stakeholders, and published on the County Council’s Public Notice Portal.

Each of the proposals relates to Resourced Provisions, which provide places at mainstream schools for pupils with specific special educational needs. This arrangement enables children to be taught mainly alongside their peers whilst being supported by specialist facilities and staff. 

The proposals to be consulted on are as follows: 

Guillemont Junior School

Guillemont Junior School already has an existing, established Resourced Provision for twelve children with Speech, Language and Communication needs. The County Council will now consult on proposals to build a new classroom, sensory room, group room, and secure outdoor space for an additional eight local children with Autism Spectrum Condition. It is proposed that places would be available from September 2024. A total of £940,000 has been allocated for the proposals in the Children’s Services Capital Programme. 

Morelands Primary School 

There are two proposals for Morelands Primary School, the first of which is to alter one of the school’s existing Resourced Provisions to accommodate eight pupils with Autism Spectrum Condition.  

The second proposal is to increase existing specialist provision for pupils with Speech, Language and Communication needs by two places, from 14 to 16 pupils. The County Council is proposing to refurbish an underutilised area of the school to create a sensory room and therapy space to support this provision. The proposed cost of the works is in the region of £230,000. Subject to approval, works would take place this summer. 

St Jude’s Catholic Primary School 

The third and final proposal is to relocate specialist teaching and support for children with permanent hearing loss and additional language and communication needs, from Wallisdean Junior School to St Jude’s Catholic Primary School. The proposal is to refurbish and reconfigure an existing underutilised space to create a teaching base together with acoustic works in other key areas of the school. The proposed cost of the works is approximately £270,000. These works would also take place this summer, subject to approval. 

The feedback from the statutory consultations on the above proposals will be presented alongside recommendations for Councillor Forster’s consideration at a future date.

Also at his Decision Day on 15 March, Councillor Forster approved spend for a further two projects in the Children’s Services Capital programme. The first of these is for external works at Wyvern College in Fair Oak to enhance the safety and security of the school site and to create a new footpath for families accessing the adjoining infant and junior schools. The total cost approved for the project is £794,000. A planning application for the works was approved in July last year, with works anticipated to start in spring and complete in summer this year.  

Early years provision also looks set to benefit, as plans to replace Little Deers Nursery in Burley received the green light. The existing nursery building is now at the end of its life and is due to be demolished. Project proposals totalling £700,000 were approved and are set to create a new early years building that will also provide an additional two places, catering for a total of 26 children aged between 0 and 5 years old. A planning application will be submitted to the New Forest National Planning Authority in autumn this year.  

Commenting on the projects, Councillor Forster added: “We know that investing in schools and early years settings is vital for the future success of our children and young people and, in turn, our local communities and indeed our county as a whole. Our Capital Programme for Children’s Services reflects our continued commitment to raising standards across our educational estate. I am pleased to approve spend for these two projects, which mark another key milestone in our ongoing delivery of this vitally important programme.” 

The agreed proposals come following other recent successes for Hampshire schools, including the Department for Education’s announcement that it has provisionally prioritised seven of the county’s schools for major works as part of its School Rebuilding Programme. Earlier this month, the DfE also provisionally approved the County Council’s application for a new special free school in Whiteley