Leeds Council is planning to launch a special, fee-free school in Headingley. The new establishment would be called the Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre (SILC) and it would substitute the current Grammar School at Rose Court, located in North Leeds.
If the Council is able to negotiate a deal with the landlord of the current school edifices, the new education centre for children with special needs could be open from September 2021. The demand for education in the area has increased and the number of young people with special needs in Leeds has grown as well.
The new school will provide 150 children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) the opportunity to learn in an environment where specialists and adequately trained staff can give them the necessary support they need, along with other individuals of the same age.
SILC would collaborate with a bigger school, therefore creating a further 50 places for children with special needs so that they can receive a good education in the right environment.
It was announced that the public can participate in an online survey and two public meetings to express any opinions about the future establishment. The gatherings will be held on the 3rd of December at Rose Court and on the 11th of December at the Merrion House.
The executive member for Learning, Skills and Employment, Councillor Jonathan Pryor, suggested attending the drop-in sessions and completing the online survey to let the Council know what residents’ opinions are about the new project.
The proposal comes amid criticism in August due to the falling percentage of pupils with special needs attending mainstream schools in Leeds and the subsequent rise of their presence in special schools. The Yorkshire Evening Post has highlighted this through a statement by the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) directly blaming the government for its lack of action to solve this discriminatory issue.
Children who have special needs usually get SEN support in schools with different objectives depending on the age of the pupil. On the government’s website it is subdivided into ‘Children under 5’, ‘Children between 5 and 15’ and ‘Young people aged 16 or over’ sections. If a child needs additional support from teachers and experts then parents can request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment from their local government.
Leeds City Council actively promotes the charity Scope to provide support for families with special needs thanks to a free helpline and online community. Everyone can donate to help them as well as contribute to create a society where “all disabled people enjoy equality and fairness”.
Leeds City Council further provides support for families and provides short descriptions which explains the roles of the Child Health and Disability team (CHAD), the occupational therapy team and the regional specialist paediatric team. Furthermore, the website also provides a helpline and a live chat for anyone needing immediate help.According to a statistical study by the government, as of January 2019 over 14% of students have ‘SEND.
The most demanded support for them would be for Speech, Language and Communications Needs. Over the last decade more than half of pupils in State-funded primary schools across England have special needs. It is clear that the need for support within educational establishments is increasingly called for.