A special school for Daventry

Plans have been announced to build a new school in Daventry for children with special educational needs.

orthamptonshire County Council has included the plans in a document to go before its cabinet on Tuesday, January 14.

The review of all the council’s units for children with special educational needs (SEN) states that a school for an estimated 150 pupils aged four to 16 should be provided in Daventry to serve the district and south Northamptonshire.

Cllr Catherine Boardman, cabinet member for children, families and education, said: “The current system is outdated, no longer matching the needs of our student population and not always in the right place for the children and young people who need specialist support. The review has highlighted where we can make improvements.

“So we’ve looked at provision across the county to determine how we can make sure that wherever they live in the county, and whatever level of need they have, all of our children and young people get the special education that best suits their needs.”

Currently children who need to go to a special school from the Daventry area have to travel into Northampton.

Lyn Worrall, from Welton, takes her son Jago to nursery at Fairfields Special School in Northampton. She said: “You’re looking at a 30 to 40 -minute journey just to get into Northampton.”

“We drive there as you can’t get school transport for children under five, but for those who use school transport that journey will be even longer.

“Thankfully I have a good support team so getting Jago in and out the car isn’t too bad, and he doesn’t seem to mind the journey. And for me I’m with him as well.

“I guess for other parents and children the journey might be longer or they might have other problems.

“The problem comes once he’s at the school as I’m at home and it is so far away. If Jago has a problem, say an epileptic seizure, and has to get treatment, I would have to drive in. Assuming there’s no problems on the motorway that’s 40 minutes before I’d get to see him.

“Whereas if Jago’s brothers get ill at school that’s just a five-minute walk up the road for me.

“When you think of it like that having a special school in Daventry would be a massive benefit.”

The county council has not said if it has a site in mind for the school, or published any timeline for when it might be built and opened, but the report indicates the council expects the school to be open by 2017. It has said that operating the new school would likely cost in the region of £2.25 million to £3 million per year.

The report will be discussed by the council’s cabinet and if the councillors back the recommendations, the authority will have to ask the Department for Education if it will fund the extra places as part of the council’s dedicated schools grant.