Improvements planned for young children with special needs

Councillors in Brighton & Hove are being asked to approve proposals aimed at improving educational opportunities for the small number of very young children with the most severe and complex special educational needs in the city.

The move would see Hillside special school in Portslade extend its age range from the current 4 to 16 down to 2 to 16, while Downs View special school in Brighton would extend its age range from 3 to 19 down to 2 to 19.

Both schools cater for children with severe and profound and multiple learning difficulties. The changes proposed would lead to comparable opportunities in both the east and the west of the city for children with these needs in this age range.

In addition the council is taking forward plans to develop an integrated nursery for children with less severe and complex needs which would offer all the specialist support needed on a mainstream nursery site. Once the site is agreed, it is hoped the new provision will be open by September 2018.

The current lack of equivalent opportunities within the city has sometimes led to requests from parents for costly places in independent schools which are some distance from the city.

The proposals follow consultation conducted by Brighton & Hove City Council that showed 70% of respondents in favour of the changes.

The council’s children, young people and skills committee will consider the proposals when it meets on Monday 9 January 2017.

Committee chair Councillor Tom Bewick said: “We want to enable more very young children with special educational needs to be educated closer to home.

“These proposals would mean fewer long-distance taxi rides for the small number of our very young children with the most severe and complex needs, with more choice and less inconvenience for their parents.

“They would lead to a more effective use of the council’s resources, and local parents have made it clear that they would welcome such a change.” 

The committee papers are available online