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New school for Okehampton

Monday, August 17th, 2020 8:06am

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter

Image: Google Maps

Will cater for 100 pupils

A new school for 80-100 pupils aged 5 to 16 with special educational needs is set to be built in Okehampton.

Devon County Council has put forward plans for a school on vacant plots of land at the Okehampton East Business Park in Higher Stockley Mead.

The school will cater for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) conditions and will ensure local demand for places are met by the new provision.

Putting forward the reasons why the council has submitted the planning application, a statement says that Devon’s special schools are currently at or nearing capacity with limited options to expand on existing sites, and many are land locked and would require significant investment.

Devon’s existing special schools are not geographically well placed with a relative lack of provision in some areas of the County with potentially high transport time and cost, the statement adds.

It continues: “There has locally been an increase in the number of children who have been issued with an Educational Care and Health Plan (EHCP) with Devon seeing an increase of 45 per cent between 2015 and 2019. This increase in need has resulted in a shortfall of state funded Special School provision and an increased reliance on the Independent sector.

“Devon has total of 11 special schools, 16 specialist resource bases linked and located to mainstream schools across the County and one secure unit, with the eleven special schools currently have capacity to support approximately 1,400 children with SEND and currently commissions in excess of 700 places from the Independent Sector.

“Devon has seen a significant increase in need for Special Education provision in recent years due to a number of factors including demographic change, migration into the County and increasing more complex needs, and Devon’s special schools are currently at or nearing capacity with limited options to expand on existing sites, many are land locked and would require significant investment.

“Devon’s existing special schools are not geographically well placed with a relative lack of provision in some areas of the County with potentially high transport time and cost, and the council has agreed to a £20m programme to deliver up to 300 additional places across the County and there are already plans in place for North and South Devon as well as new provision delivered in Tiverton and most recently Newton Abbot.

“There is a geographic gap in SEN provision within West Devon and in some respects to the western edge of Mid Devon and the new provision in Okehampton will ensure sufficient local provision to meet the demand for places.”

Devon County Council’s own development management committee will determine the fate of the application at a later date.

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