Wokingham Borough Council|

Taken from Wokingham Borough News Centre.

Education for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is set for further improvement in Wokingham Borough thanks to a £6.3 million Government contribution.

The Department for Education (DfE) has approved the council’s application, which it sought as extra capital funding on top of its existing allocation for high needs students. This will help the council to develop new services to meet demand which, like everywhere else in the country, is growing.

Improving skills both in and outside the classroom

The council plans to invest the money in several ways, including a range of new facilities for children with SEND which would be attached to mainstream schools. This will allow more pupils to learn closer to home rather than travelling outside the borough, which can sometimes be disruptive and an inefficient use of limited resources.

It would also go towards new facilities for students with SEND aged 16 and above to prepare them for adulthood by teaching life and work skills alongside academic subjects. These would offer workplace-based learning and opportunities like supported internships or industry-specific training to improve their employability.

Investing wisely to meet a growing need

Cllr Prue Bray, deputy council leader and executive member for children’s services, said: “We’re incredibly thankful for this funding, which will help us improve and diversify our education and training for SEND students of all ages.

“Helping children with SEND to stay in school locally will give them a more secure foundation – and by teaching skills for day-to-day living, our proposed post-16 centres would offer a truly rounded provision.

“This would be a sound long-term investment as demand for SEND services is growing and we’ve got to ensure that the coming generation will thrive as adults.”

The council was invited to apply for the funding, part of a £2.6 billion sum being invested nationally, as part of the Safety Valve programme for areas facing very high SEND demand. It had to prove the money would improve provision and help it spend more effectively in future.

A package for young people of all ages

These proposals are still at an early stage following consultation in the spring on the principle of developing them. The council also proposes repurposing its in-school SEND resource bases, phasing out any that are no longer required, and creating a new tier of provision called designated units.

The DfE has recently awarded two other sums to the authority: one to build two new SEND schools in the borough and the other to improve and expand SEND educational support services.

Provision is being developed at Oak Tree Special School in Winnersh, set to open in September, along with a satellite unit for Woodley’s Addington Special School at the old Farley Hill village school.

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