Heathfield Special School in Fareham: Bid to create extra special educational needs places in Hampshire

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A bid to expand the special educational needs support at a Fareham school and one other in Hampshire to create 40 new places is set to get the green light.

The proposal follows Hampshire County Council’s aim to reduce the cost of SEN placements since, on average, an independent and non-maintained special school place costs £61,200 per child. The demand for special educational needs and disability (SEND) school provision in the Hampshire local authority increases yearly. As of January 2024, the number of maintained education, health and care plans (EHCPs) was 16,065. By 2030-31, Hampshire is forecast to have around 28,000 pupils with an EHCP if unmitigated.

Due to the lack of provision in Hampshire schools to place these children, the county council has increased placement within the independent non-maintained sector. However, this option is more expensive, costing £61,200 per child, compared to placing a child in a community special school, which is £19,766.

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To meet the demand for special school places and resource provision, the county council has proposed creating 40 new places in Fareham and Bordon. Heathfield Special School in Fareham would be expanded by up to 20 places for children and young people with moderate learning difficulties and severe learning difficulties. The school’s pupil number will increase from 170 to 190 from September 2024.

Heathfield School in Fareham. Source: Google MapsHeathfield School in Fareham. Source: Google Maps
Heathfield School in Fareham. Source: Google Maps

The proposal also included refurbishing two classrooms, improving adjacent areas, and relocating the teachers’ planning spaces. These changes will accommodate the extra places. The other 20 additional places would be added to Hollywater School in Bordon for children and young people aged 4 to 19 years with SLD.

Hollywater School provides specialist support for pupils who have moderate and severe needs, as well as profound and multiple learning disabilities and social and communication needs, including autism spectrum condition (ASC). The proposal is to install a two-classroom modular building to accommodate the Post-16 pupils, with a covered link to the new building. This will create additional accommodation in the main school for additional pupils aged 4 to 16.

The county council report said the new places will have an estimated cost of £886,480 for the special school places compared to an estimated £2,448m for the same number of places in independent and non-maintained special schools using the average cost of an SEN-only funded day placement. This means there would be a cost avoidance of around £1.56 million.

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The proposal also includes adding moderate and severe learning difficult support to Saxon Wood Special School in Basingstoke’s specialist designation. Although the designation may not increase the number of places at the school, it will create “good quality places quickly where needed.”

The report said: “The proposals aim to build on established good quality Hampshire specialist provision and meet the needs of children and young people within their local settings. This will reduce the local authority’s dependence upon independent and non-maintained provision and will aim to keep pupils as close to the home community as possible and in mainstream environments.”

If the executive member for education approves the proposal to expand Hollywater and Heathfield Schools and add to the specialist designation of Saxon Wood Special School next week (May 14), a four-week statutory consultation will be undertaken.