New special school planned for former Stafford care home site
A former Stafford care home could be transformed into a school for children with special educational needs if plans are given the green light.
SEN 1 Ltd, which already runs two special schools in the region, has applied to Stafford Borough Council for permission to change the use of New Burton House in Burton Bank Lane.
If the plans are approved the proposed Heather Field School would provide around 37 jobs and places for up to 64 pupils by 2024.
A spokesman for SEN 1 Ltd said: " “The application is being submitted on behalf of Dr Amy Hopkin and Sarah Deaville of SEN 1 Ltd who are highly experienced, talented and passionate educationalists.
"They have transformed the lives of over 100 children in North Staffordshire with special educational needs by providing therapeutic learning environments in their two existing special schools, which have been rated outstanding in their most recent Ofsted inspections.
“The schools specifically provide education to children with autistic spectrum condition, speech, language and communication difficulties, and learning difficulties with associated challenging behaviour.
“The intention is to open Heather Field School at New Burton House as a similar special school, offering quality education to children in Stafford and the surrounding areas. The applicants have a strong relationship with the Staffordshire Education Commissioning Team who are supportive of this proposal and have confirmed that a school of the type proposed would be warmly welcomed as many children travel outside Stafford (some travelling considerable distances) to access suitable education.
“The provision of this school would have a significant beneficial impact on the quality of life of children based in and around Stafford, but it would also reduce transport costs to the local authority.”
The four existing buildings at the former NHS trust-run care home have been deemed suitable for conversion and will create 'an inclusive, therapeutic, village-style environment.'
Neighbours have expressed delight at the site being occupied again, as it recently had been dubbed 'an eyesore' and was prone to anti-social behaviour.
Last month a Staffordshire County Council committee was told that the number of children and young people classed as having special educational needs and disability (SEND) in Staffordshire has risen by a third in the past five years.
The number of pupils with Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs) has also risen year on year. An EHCP is a legal document detailing a young person’s educational, health and social needs, as well as the additional support they require.
A Staffordshire SEND strategy has been produced to improve support and prospects for children and young people in the county.
By Kerry Ashdown
Local Democracy Reporter
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