New Newham school for pupils with complex educational needs

The Government has announced funding for a new special school in Newham for pupils with complex autism.

The School will be run by the Learning in Harmony Trust (LiHT) which currently runs the John F Kennedy School in Beckton.

The School will cater for 105 children and young people with complex autism and is expected to open in September 2022.

The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson made the decision following a rigorous assessment process involving Council officers, Newham parent representatives and Department for Education (DfE) officials.

LiHT was chosen because of its excellent track record in running the existing and outstanding-rated JFK school. The LiHT bid included proposals for the school to become a centre of excellence, which would tap into existing expertise in Newham and act as a ‘link-maker’ between other schools in Newham to share effective practice.

The site for the new school will be confirmed in the autumn, and will be built on land provided by the Council.

Newham has seen an increase in the number of children with highly complex SEND needs in particular for ASD[1]. The number of primary age pupils identified with complex ASD[2] significantly increased by 78% from 2015 to 2018. This is now resulting in an increased demand for ASD provision for secondary age children.

The Council forecast estimates it will require places for 800 additional complex/high needs-funded ASD pupils by 2025. Even with the proposed new school providing 105 additional places, 90% of pupils with complex ASD in Newham will need to be educated in mainstream schools or resource provisions. Newham will remain one of the most inclusive boroughs.

Newham is also:

  • continuing to invest in resourced provision at mainstream schools (four new/expanded Resource Bases opened in 2018);
  • planning special school ‘satellite’ provision on mainstream school sites which will combine opportunities for inclusion with specialist expertise for children with complex needs;
  • providing additional special school places on a temporary basis (5 years) at a new annexe to JFK Special School.

The new school announced today will be able to cater for young people who are not able to communicate verbally and need significant support to communicate in other ways, those who have very challenging behaviours, and/or who need very intensive support to enable them to learn safely (for example, require two support workers per child). The Council will decide which pupils attend the school based on their assessment of need and parental preference.

Acting cabinet member for Education Cllr Zulfiqar Ali said: “There is a growing need for specialist education provision in Newham, both within our existing schools family, and in specialist provision.

“We know that additional provision will be needed in coming years as there will be more children with complex needs.  This new school will meet their needs and be centre of excellence supporting the needs of all schools in Newham. It will work in partnership with mainstream, resourced provision and special schools alike and will increase our capacity to educate the minority of pupils who need small, quiet and nurturing environments, which are not necessarily possible in a busy mainstream school.”

Gary Wilkie, Chief Executive Officer of Learning in Harmony Trust, said, “We are absolutely delighted that Learning in Harmony Trust has been chosen to deliver this essential specialist provision for our community. As a Trust, we pride ourselves on our commitment to offering an inclusive, nurturing environment for all our pupils, regardless of their background or ability.

“We look forward to working in partnership with  Newham and drawing on the expertise of our brilliant team across our mainstream and special schools to create the fantastic new learning offer that our future pupils at this school deserve. We can’t wait to welcome these children and young people through our doors.”

Published: 20 Jul 2020