To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the announcement of new school places for special educational needs children on 11 March, how the Department for Education is working with local authorities to ensure that new schools are built where demand for places is highest.
Every child in this country, whatever their background, should have the opportunity to get a world class education, giving them knowledge and skills that set them up for life. This includes children with special educational needs and disabilities. To help achieve this ambition, the department has opened 34 new special free schools through the free schools programme, with a further 91 approved to open in the future.
The department’s experience of opening special free schools has shown that the commitment from local authorities is important so that new schools compliment the local education offer and are a close match for what families need. That is why in the recent round, we asked local authorities to set out their case for why a new special free school would benefit their area, including how the new school would help them manage their high needs budget.
This process does not replace the free school presumption process and does not replace a local authority’s duty to secure sufficient appropriate education for children and young people.
If there is significant basic need in an area, the local authority should decide whether a free school presumption competition is needed and if so, they must seek proposals to establish a free school through the presumption process.