New school for children with special needs planned for Kempston
A new free school for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties is set to open in Kempston.
The 200-place school, for pupils aged three-19, is one of 14 new special free schools across the country which were announced last week.
Together they will offer 1,100 additional places, with the Kempston establishment the largest of them all.
The Kempston school is expected to open in September 2020. Mark Lehain, interim director of the New Schools Network which offers advice and resources for organisations interested in starting a free school, welcomed the news.
Mr Lehain, who was the founder and first principal of Bedford Free School, said: “This will be a really good addition to Bedford’s schools and to the wider region.
“We’ve already got some brilliant special schools in the borough, but there’s also massive demand and it’s something which the system is catching up with.
“As a Bedford boy it’s brilliant to see this coming to where we live.”
The bidding process to get permission from the government started in July 2017.
Several details have yet to be confirmed, including where the school will be as well as the final design and specification.
However several vacant or unused locations are being considered, and the design will incorporate specialist facilities that are currently available within Bedford Borough.
The school will be part of the Bedford Inclusive Learning and Training Trust, which already runs Grange Academy, St John’s Special School and College, and Greys Education Centre.
While there is already pressure on the limited number of school spaces for children with disabilities and SEN in Bedford Borough, it is believed an extra 700 such places will be needed by 2030.
A Bedford Borough Council spokesman said: “The council is committed to providing high quality education provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, as close to home as possible.
“This proposed school will increase capacity, develop greater specialisms and ease the growing pressure on current capacity.”