Children with special educational needs will reap the benefits of a new £360m building programme to be announced this week as part of Essex County Council’s budget proposals.
A major element of the investment for school building works will be earmarked for special educational needs (£83.4m), supplemented by funding from the Essex Schools Forum.
Together, these elements form the biggest ever capital investment programme for special educational needs children in the county and will result in the transformation of the facilities available in Essex.
Cllr Ray Gooding, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “Our school building programme is worth £364m – with £49.8m being invested in 2016/17 alone. As well as paying for the expansion and building of mainstream schools, this money will fund a significant overhaul in the number, location and quality of school facilities for children with special educational needs (SEN).
“We have some fantastic special schools in Essex, however children with SEN are currently travelling too far to schools where the facilities are adequate but not outstanding. If we invest in creating a better environment, we are investing in the chance for these young people to achieve their maximum potential.”
Cllr John Spence, Cabinet Member for Finance, added: “Education is a major component of our capital programme and the record levels of investment we have been able to achieve this year, despite the well-known financial constraints we are operating under, is testament to our strong track record of financial management.
“Apart from the SEN programme, we are committed to meeting the ever-increasing number of mainstream school places required across the county and this £364m programme of building works over the next three years will create more and better places, new schools in places where they are needed and transform our provision for those with special educational needs.”