Three schools to expand in Wolverhampton to cater for special needs pupils
Three schools in Wolverhampton will expand creating an extra 54 places for special needs pupils.
Penn Hall School, Tettenhall Wood School and Warstones Primary will take dozens of extra children under the Wolverhampton Council plans.
It comes after the authority revealed it spent £3.28 million last year sending youngsters miles away for education as the city sees a ‘marked increase’ in pupils with special needs.
Under the plans 24 places would be created at Penn Hall and a further 18 at Tettenhall Wood School – which will lower its entry age from five to four.
There will be a new 12-place resource centre at Warstones Primary in Penn.
It would mean fewer youngsters with autism, learning difficulties and physical disabilities will travel miles out of area for costly school placements.
The council said 17 per cent of primary school pupils with a hearing impairment were forced to enrol at schools out of the city in July.
Councillor Lynne Moran, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “We want to ensure our children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities are able to access high quality provision closer to home, and these proposals will help schools in Wolverhampton meet rising demand for this specialist provision.”.”
The proposals are expected to cost about £550,000, which will be covered by Government funding.
Growing pressures for places have seen the number of pupils on roll at special needs schools ‘exceed registered capacities’, the council said.
Tettenhall Wood School, in Regis Road, has seen a 91 per cent increase in pupil numbers over the past five years – rising from 58 in 2011/2012 to 111 in the last academic year, although it is only registered to have 102 pupils on roll.
The plans would also see the school lower its entry age from five to four to help meet an 'marked increase' in pupils with autism' in Wolverhampton.
Places at Tettenhall Wood School are now set to increase to 120 under the plans, while places will increase from 76 to 100 at Penn Hall School.
Penn Hall School would also extend its support to pupils with learning difficulties and autism and not just children with physical disabilities at its Vicarage Road base.
A council report read: "The proposed prescribed alterations are expected to support long-term value for money by reducing the potential need for expensive out of city placements.
"They would introduce additional capacity and greater flexibility into the city’s local offer and maximise the opportunity for pupils to access appropriate local provision."
The council has now launched three consultations on plans for the schools, with residents encouraged to share their views by October 7.