A school for young people over sixteen with special educational needs and disabilities has been approved by Southwark Council.
The new educational facility will be based at Bishops House, and aims to help young people as they move into adulthood and help prepare them for the world of work by offering training and work experience placements to its students, with a focus on vocational skills and accredited qualifications.
According to the government, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can affect a young person’s behaviour or ability to socialise, their reading and writing, ability to understand things, concentration levels or physical ability.
According to the charity Mencap, children with special educational needs are twice as likely to be bullied than other children, struggle with finances in the future, and find making friends and long-term relationships difficult.
Most children identified as having special educational needs or disabilities receive extra support in mainstream schools, such as speech therapy or, if they have more complex needs, an education, health and care (ECH) plan.
According to the Department for Education, only around eight per cent SEND children attend specialist schools.
But in Southwark, there is a growing number of SEND children and young people, with 40 per cent of them diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder.
If the current rate of increase continues, it is estimated that Southwark will have nearly 3,000 young children and young people with ‘high needs provision’, who need special school places or additional places in mainstream schools.
Currently, a quarter of the students with more complex needs are educated outside the borough as there are not enough places available nearer to home.
Councillor Jasmine Ali, cabinet member for children, schools and adult care said: “I am incredibly pleased that cabinet approved this decision.
“This is really fantastic news for young people with special education needs and disabilities and their families.
“This project had fantastic support from parents when we consulted with and spoke to them about our plans and I look forward to welcoming them into this new facility in the not too distant future.
“We recognise that our further education offer needs to be better developed and that young people have to travel outside of the borough to access the services they need.
“Bishops House is part of our planned expansion of local opportunities for special educational needs and will help the council to improve our post-sixteen offer.
“As a council we want to ensure equity of services and that no one is left behind. Developing this service will help move us in the right direction.”