Plans to spend £2.23m expanding SEND school in Oxford approved

Funding to expand a school that caters for children from Oxfordshire with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has been approved by the county council’s cabinet.

A total of £2.23 million was approved by councillors at the 19 March meeting of cabinet to create 23 new places at Mabel Prichard Special School in Oxford. The school provides education and support for pupils with a range of severe learning difficulties and is managed by The Gallery Trust.

The school is co-located with Orchard Meadow Primary School. It is also an academy and is managed by United Learning.

It is proposed that Orchard Meadow Primary School will relocate its foundation stage accommodation into surplus space elsewhere on site, enabling the provision of the additional school places for children with SEND.

Councillor Kate Gregory, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Improvement, said: “The expansion of Mabel Prichard School in Oxford is just one part of our continued 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 we are working together with families to make a difference to the way children and young people get the support they deserve to help them thrive.”

Kay Willett MBE, Chief Executive Officer of the Gallery Trust, said: “We are delighted that the expansion of Mabel Prichard School in Oxford has been approved.

“The Gallery Trust will always respond to local needs by enhancing or expanding our schools and services and is happy to support Oxfordshire's SEND strategy on this project.

“We are so pleased that this partnership will support the provision of the much needed additional special school places in Oxfordshire and we know that this will have a positive impact on many children and young people and their families."

The cabinet’s approval is part of wider plans to increase SEND provision in the county. Bloxham Grove Academy opened in January, and the Department for Education is due to submit a planning application soon for another school in Faringdon. Meanwhile £14.4m of funding was approved by cabinet in January for a new school SEND school in Didcot.

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 17.

SEND partnership improvement information can be found on the council’s website and parents and carers can sign up for a SEND e-newsletter online and SEND coordinators can also fill in a simple form. In addition, online support for parents and carers of children with SEND has been improved, with more to come, to make it easier to find information, which can be accessed at oxfordshire.gov.uk/localoffer

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