Croydon Council is looking for an organisation with the skills and experience to provide outstanding special education for young people with autism and learning difficulties in a new free school.
Capital funding for constructing the new building has been agreed by the Department for Education, which has this week announced a number of similar projects across the country.
Croydon successfully bid for inclusion in the programme earlier in the year, and has provisionally identified a site in Lodge Lane, New Addington for the new 150-place special school for children aged 2-19 years.
The facility will be the latest in a series of brand new schools to be built by Croydon in recent years as part of what has been the largest school expansion programme in the UK.
The borough also has the largest youth population of any London borough, and since 2010 has seen the number of young people with special educational needs for whom the borough maintains an education, health and care plan increase from 1,800 to 2,500. This has made it a priority for the council to invest in more local places to ensure young people with SEN have an effective education pathway to support them in making progress, achieving independence, and gaining employment.
The borough is already working closely with local parents and other partners to put children and young people with SEN at the heart of Croydon’s investment plans and to avoid them having to travel outside the borough to access education.
“We are delighted the DfE have included Croydon in this exciting project and we’re keen to hear from any organisation which has the skills and expertise to deliver the specialist services needed by many young people in the borough.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning
Subject to the outcome of consultation on the Croydon local plan it is hoped planning applications for the preferred site could be submitted by the middle of next year.
The scheme will be put together in close liaison with parents and carers through Croydon’s Parent Forum, which is run by voluntary sector organisation Parents in Partnership (PIP).
Agnieszka Gebka, from PiP, said: “We welcome the new initiative and we’re excited to be able to work with the council on establishing the new school’s assessment criteria in a truly co-productive way. Jointly designing the new school to best meet the needs of local children is a great opportunity and will hopefully bring about a real benefit to those with specialist support requirements.”
The borough is looking for a provider with a proven track record in using an evidence-based approach to educating children with autism to improve their futures and help get them into employment.
Full details can be found at www.croydon.gov.uk/freeschool.