Plans for a new multi-million pound school for children with autism will help to provide support for specialist education.
A six-week consultation from 12 June 2023 to 24 July 2023 had 105 responses with 90 (86%) showing support.
The new £3.5 million development is planned for the site of the former Woodfield Community Primary School in Harrogate, and the proposals will be considered at a meeting next week.
The primary school closed at the end of December after years of falling pupil numbers and an “inadequate” rating by Ofsted.
Members of North Yorkshire Council’s executive will meet on Tuesday next week (August 22) to discuss potentially upgrading the site, enabling it to cater for up to 80 pupils with autism aged between 11 and 19.
Those in support also commented that the site would be “ideal” for providing a safe learning environment, while others said the special school is not only “absolutely necessary” for the children and the whole community, but would provide vital jobs for people with specialist experience and opportunities for career growth for others.
North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said:
I’m pleased with the positive response we’ve received from the consultation.
Currently there are 432 children with the primary need of autism accessing existing North Yorkshire special schools and we are committed to providing further support.
If given the go-head, the redeveloped school would provide children and families with a more local offer of provision that is currently unavailable without significant travel.
The consultation came as children and young people in the county with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) are set to benefit from a £20 million investment, which includes the creation of new places in Special Schools and mainstream SEN Resource Bases.
Since 2016, the number of children and young people with identified SEND and an education, health and care plan (EHCP) has increased by over 110 per cent in North Yorkshire. As this trend continues, it is estimated that an additional capacity of 350 SEND school places will be developed over the next three to five years as a consequence of North Yorkshire Council’s investment to meet need.
The investment will enable the council to find highly suitable placements for more young people closer to their local communities and deliver better value for children and families from the county, including improving existing provision to create modern, fit-for-purpose facilities suited to a wider range of pupil needs.
The target opening date for the school is September next year. There are no planned changes to the community library and children’s centre on the same site.