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County Council approves funding for a new SEND school


Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet has approved funding for a new school for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

A total of £14.4 million will be invested in the planned school, which will be located in Didcot. Initial design work has started, and the education specification will be published for public consultation in February. 

It is intended that the school will have the capacity to teach 120 children with special educational needs related to autism and/or social, emotional and mental health.

The school will be run by an academy trust to be identified through a competitive process. The choice of sponsor will be approved by the Department for Education and is expected to be announced either later this year or early 2025.

Subject to planning permission, construction work is scheduled to begin in 2025 with a projected opening date of 2026/27.

Oxfordshire County Council has a growing number of special schools. Bloxham Grove Academy opened this month, and the Department for Education is due to submit a planning application soon for another school in Faringdon.

The proposal for the school in Didcot will be the first of two new special schools planned for the area, which will take the total number of Oxfordshire special schools to seventeen.

Councillor Kate Gregory, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Improvement, said: “The proposed new school in Didcot will be an important part of our efforts to provide quality local facilities and support for SEND children.

“We’re fully committed to improving Oxfordshire’s SEND services for children, young people and their families. 

“We’ve recently published a priority action plan and are working together with families to make a difference in the way children and young people get the support they deserve to help them thrive.

“This is an important stepping stone and I look forward to providing updates on the project in coming months.”

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