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Consultation opens over plans for new special needs bases at schools in Norfolk

A consultation has opened this week over plans to create around 142 new learning places at 10 mainstream schools in the county for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The proposal would see the new places provided at specialist referral bases (SRBS) – which operate as part of mainstream schools, providing access to special needs classes – at 10 different locations across Norfolk.

Two of these are in West Norfolk – at Hillcrest Primary School in Downham, and at Greyfriars Academy in Lynn.

Hillcrest School in Downham, where a new SRB is proposed. Pictured is the new extension.
Hillcrest School in Downham, where a new SRB is proposed. Pictured is the new extension.

The plan is part of Norfolk County Council’s £120 million transformation of special educational needs, and the programme seeks to create 500 extra school places by building up to four new specialist schools and expanding existing SRBs or building new ones.

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, John Fisher said: “This is yet another step forward in our pledge to transform education for children with special needs.

"It’s great news that the proposed new SRBs will be at mainstream primary and secondary schools in nine different villages and towns right across the county.

“Youngsters with special educational needs (SEN) can be educated effectively in a range of mainstream or specialist settings. These extra SRB places as part of mainstream schools will provide more choice for families looking for that extra support for their child to thrive in a mainstream school.

“It is a central aim of our transformation programme to reduce travel time for children and their families and provide extra SEN support in mainstream schools and this proposal does just that.’’

Five new SRBs are planned to be for children with autism with four being brand new and the remaining one the replacement and expansion of an existing pod facility. These youngsters would attend the SRB for all their education.

Four SRBs would be for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs and the remaining base would be for youngsters with learning and cognition (L&C) needs.

Children with either SEMH or L&C needs would stay on the roll of the home school and attend the SRB for anywhere between two and four terms before reintegrating back into their home school on a full-time basis.

The county council has been working with governors and senior leaders from schools across Norfolk on the plans.

The consultation is open until Tuesday, February 4. To have your say, visit norfolk.citizenspace.com/childrens-services/srbprovision.

Printed copies of the consultation document can also be requested by emailing schoolreview@norfolk.gov.uk.

Individual schools, including the two in West Norfolk, will be holding drop-in events where people can find out more about these proposals.

  • Greyfriars Academy in Lynn, where a new 16-place autism SRB is proposed, on Tuesday, January 14 from 2.30pm to 3.30pm, and on Wednesday, January 29 from 5.3pm to 6.30pm
  • Hillcrest Primary School in Downham, where a new 16-place L&C SRB is proposed, on Wednesday, January 15 from 3pm to 4pm, and on Thursday, January 30 from 5pm to 6pm

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