In a bid to address the shortage of specialist school placements, Calderdale’s Cabinet is set to discuss potential strategies on Monday, March 11, 2024. The scarcity of such educational provisions is not only a local challenge but resonates with the national issue of an insufficient number of specialized school spaces. The surge in Calderdale’s children requiring an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) has placed immense pressure on the council’s budgets, emphasizing the urgent need for solutions.

Despite the hurdles, Calderdale Council remains steadfast in its commitment to supporting individuals with complex needs. Efforts have been underway to expand and augment the number of specialist placements. Previous initiatives saw additional placements created within established providers like Highbury, Woodbank, and Ravenscliffe schools. Notably, Highbury hubs were established in Withinfields and Copley mainstream schools, and Woodbank collaborated with Luddenden C of E Primary School to provide extra spaces.

Further plans include increasing capacity at Ravenscliffe Secondary School in the coming years. Expressions of interest have been sent to all mainstream primary and secondary schools to foster additional high-quality resource provisions for pupils with special education needs within mainstream settings.

Despite these commendable steps, a considerable shortfall in the number of specialist places, particularly for those with more complex needs, persists within the borough. Cabinet Members will deliberate on options to augment capacity, anticipating the continued and likely growing future demand for top-notch specialist provision in Calderdale. It’s emphasized that any additional specialist placements will necessitate significant investments from capital budgets.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, Cllr Adam Wilkinson, said; “We want all children in Calderdale to achieve their best and we do all we can to ensure that young people receive a high-quality education which meets their needs and enables them to thrive.

“Calderdale has outstanding maintained primary and secondary special schools for children with additional needs and we have already introduced measures at these sites and within mainstream schools to meet the ongoing increased demand for places.

“We understand how important it is for families to be able to access high-quality provision closer to home. We’re therefore looking at options to further increase specialist places within the borough, to ensure that provision and support are in place to meet the needs of our young people.”

The upcoming meeting on March 11 will scrutinize the report titled ‘Increasing Special School Places for Children with Special Education Needs.’ Interested parties can attend the meeting at Halifax Town Hall from 3 pm or view it online at Calderdale Council’s online portal.