A £4.5 million plan has been unveiled for a new specialist academy in North Lynn which would cater for youngsters with special needs.
The facility, which officials hope to open on a site in Bryggen Road, on the North Lynn industrial estate in 2016, would provide almost 100 places for children aged between four and 16, who have behavioural, emotional or social difficulties.
And local representatives yesterday hailed the proposals, which officials say will help to reduce the number of pupils receiving specialist tuition outside the county.
David Collis, Labour’s divisional county councillor for the area, said: “This is a huge boost for King’s Lynn and the North Lynn Industrial Estate is an excellent site for this new school.
“I’m very pleased that our town is set to be the location for such a forward thinking project and I’m certain that we’ll feel its benefit in King’s Lynn and in Norfolk as a whole.”
The school, which is subject to planning permission, is expected to provide day services for 56 children of primary school age and 40 of secondary age.
James Joyce, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s children’s services committee, said the school would help all its pupils to overcome their problems and achieve their full potential, as well as acting as a step towards returning children to mainstream education as soon as they are able to.
It is estimated that around 270 children from Norfolk with special educational needs are currently being taught at institutions outside the county boundaries.
And, of those, approximately half have the kinds of problems which the new Lynn school would cater for, if it gets the go-ahead.
Mr Joyce said: “Not only would this new facility provide an excellent and modern learning environment for our young people but also, by providing specialist resources locally, fewer Norfolk children would need to travel long distances to get to school, which is in their best interests as well as being more cost efficient.
“This is a much needed development for education in West Norfolk and another step towards our goal of providing a good school for every Norfolk learner.”
Money for the project is being drawn from the council’s dedicates schools grant, which goes towards capital projects.
Officials hope the school will open in time for the start of the 2016-17 academic year, although planning permission has still to be obtained.
However, the authority expects to submit a planning application by Christmas and hopes to secure consent for the scheme next year.
The council says it will also be consulting West Norfolk Council and other bodies over the move.
A sponsor is also being sought to run the academy once it is open, although the final decision on who that is will be taken by the Department for Education.