Headlines: April 5th, 2005

Local Education Authorities will have to meet new standards in special school buildings and facilities for special educational provision in mainstream schools. They have been set out in new draft guidance published by the Government as it announced that an extra 66 million pounds is being made available to improve the buildings.

The aim of the new standards is to ensure better quality Special Educational Needs and Disability facilities for pupils in both special and mainstream schools. The standards relate to facilities such as accommodation to support the entitlement to a broad, balanced curriculum for all pupils, improved storage and support accommodation, such as for specialist mobility equipment, space for medical and therapy purposes and improved toilet and hygiene facilities.

News of the draft guidelines – and the extra money – came from education Minister Lord Filkin who said special schools played a key role not just in educating children with the most severe and complex needs, but also in sharing their specialist skills to support inclusion in mainstream schools.

“We are at the start of a longer term process of renewal for the special schools sector. Over time we want to see all our special schools in high quality buildings and with facilities to enable them to provide the best possible education, support and care for their pupils and families,” Lord Filkin said.

In those local authority areas in the first wave of the Building Schools for the Future programme work is already underway to improve facilities and a number of other authorities are planning to locate their special schools with mainstream schools in order to facilitate inclusion at the same time as providing good quality SEND provision.

The additional 66 million pounds being made available to authorities will bring the estimated total spend in the first three phases of Building Schools for the Future to 284 million pounds. The draft guidelines will be the subject of a three month consulation.