Councillor Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, said: “We have analysed the future demand for special school provision across the county. This has identified that, in Basingstoke, we will need a new all-through school for children with social communication needs and autistic spectrum disorders in the coming years.
“By creating a caring and flexible learning environment, tailored to pupils’ particular needs, we hope to provide the best possible specialist facilities and support to enable them to build the confidence and emotional resilience they need to manage their everyday lives, developing the language, literacy and communication skills necessary to achieve.
“We are looking for an organisation to sponsor the school; one that will share our vision, and work with the County Council to secure positive outcomes for children with special educational needs.”
Following the Government’s pledge to provide free special schools across the country, the County Council submitted an expression of interest, to the DfE, in building a free special school in Hampshire – where there is currently no school focused specifically on social communication needs. This was approved by the DfE, in April 2017, with permission given to proceed with finding an independent organisation to sponsor it.
Additionally, the County Council is working with the DfE, with a view to delivering the new building for the free school that, when constructed, will be run independently by the DfE appointed sponsor.
When fully occupied, the new school will provide 125 places. It will focus on preparing young people for adulthood through the teaching of skills and attitudes, enabling them to participate as fully as possible in society, and building the foundations to become independent adults.
As an all-through school, it will mean that pupils, from the age of 4 years, will benefit from the stability of enjoying their education in a familiar environment all the way up to age 16. Staying in one place avoids the high levels of anxiety that pupils with social communication needs may experience, when faced with change, by moving from one school to another.
The proposed site for the new special school is the former Chineham Park Primary School in Shakespeare Road, Popley, Basingstoke.
Full information about the proposed new school is available online.
Potential sponsors are invited to express interest by 29 September 2017, and submit a full application by 24 November 2017.
The process is fully explained on the Department for Education website.