Warwickshire County Council has successfully completed the purchase of a former independent special school building in Exhall, increasing its provision for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in the county.
The building, formerly owned by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), is a purpose-built school for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities which also features five adjacent bungalows for residential or overnight provision. It is located on Wheelwright Lane, adjacent to Wheelwright Lane Primary School and Exhall Grange Specialist School.
The purchase presents an opportunity for the County Council to increase its offer for some of its more vulnerable young people and will enable them to attend a school in the County rather than travel out of Warwickshire, minimising disruption for the pupils and keeping health and social care integrated with their education. The projected opening date is September 2021.
The proposal is to establish an 80 place specialist school for children with Autism (ASD) and/or Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs. The age range of pupils would be from Year 5 to Year 14 (9-19 years old).
The purchase of the site supports the County Council’s desire to keep vulnerable learners within Warwickshire wherever possible. Demand for specialist educational provision is rising with 261 learners currently in specialist provision and forecasts showing that a further 259 places will be required by 2023.
Establishing a new school at Exhall is integral to the Council’s strategy to respond to this challenge, and follows the commissioning of the Discovery Academy in Nuneaton (opened in 2015) and Quest Academy in Rugby (opened in 2017).
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “I’m thrilled that this acquisition allows us to increase our provision in the County and keep our young learners with Special Educational Needs and Disablities in Warwickshire for their education. This is in keeping with what parents have told us that they want and is in line with our strategy. It is win-win as it is far more efficient and, most importantly, leads to better outcomes for those children.”
Ruth Walwyn of the Warwickshire Parent Carer Forum said: “We welcome the county council investment in new special school provision to meet the needs of children, young people and families with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. What is especially important is that the offer in Warwickshire will increase and fewer of our children and young people will need to go out of county for their education.”