Published: Friday, 12th June 2020

Medway Council’s Lead Member for Children’s Services has announced the latest plans to offer more choice on school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Medway.

Cllr Josie Iles asked the council’s Children’s Services team to review Medway’s plans in response to the growing demand of school places for children with SEND, to ensure all young people across Medway are given the best possible educational support and start in life. 

In 2018, Medway Council carried out a review of all school places available across Medway up to 2022 and last year announced plans for a new free special school to be built on council land in Cornwallis Avenue, Gillingham. The council is working in partnership with the Department for Education, which is funding and project managing the development of the new school.

Medway Council is progressing well with its plans for the new special school and, following a further review requested by the Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, is now also proposing to support an increase in provision at Abbey Court School in Strood as the next phase in this project.

It is vitally important we put plans in place to meet the needs of all of our young people

Cllr Josie Iles explained: “One of the key pieces of work I have asked Medway Council staff to review since becoming the Lead Member for Children’s Services, is to ensure we provide a sufficient supply of good quality school places for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. It is vitally important we put the right plans in place to meet the needs of all our young people and to build a sustainable and bright future for children growing up in Medway. However it is a high priority for me that we ensure the right educational opportunities are available for this particular group of children given their additional needs related to disability, so that they have excellent opportunities to learn and develop well.

“Therefore, in addition to continuing with plans to build a new school site in Cornwallis Avenue in Gillingham, I will be proposing to my colleagues in Cabinet at a later date that we should also explore providing additional school places at Abbey Court School in Strood. Abbey Court already provides excellent support to pupils aged 3 to 19 with severe and profound learning difficulties and I look forward to working closely with the school on this option.”

The latest announcement is part of Medway Council’s commitment to support Medway’s young children and families and reduce the number of children who need to be placed out of area to meet their educational needs. The council is working with a number of partner agencies, including the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, to ensure the demand for specialist places in Medway is met.

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