Plans to open a new 64-place special free school in Essex have moved a step closer after organisations were invited to bid to run it.
Essex County Council was one of a number of local authorities which expressed an interest to the Department for Education (DfE) in having a new special free school established in the county.
The special school would likely be built on the former St Peter’s College site in Chelmsford and offer 64 places for children with social, emotional and mental health needs.
Having received initial approval, the DfE is now inviting prospective sponsors to apply to run the school.
Applications must be submitted by 24 November 2017, with a decision on any final proposal subject to agreement between the DfE and the successful sponsor.
The prospective new free school follows the approval of plans for two other new Government-funded special free schools in Essex in April and comes as Essex County Council continues with its own record investment in special schools.
Up to £85million, including £42million from the Essex Schools Forum and up to £43million of capital funding from the council, has been allocated towards creating more special school places in the county over the next three to five years.
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “We are committed to meeting the individual needs of all pupils in Essex and ensuring they receive the best possible education.
“We already have some excellent special schools in the county, however more capacity is still needed to reduce the distance children have to travel to school and ensure Essex has the range of expertise needed to meet all pupils’ needs.
“This new free school will be a big boost to our ambition of creating a strong network of special schools that the county can be proud of and will complement our own investment programme.”