Stoke-on-Trent City Council is set to receive additional High Needs Education Capital as part of the Department for Education’s DfE ‘safety valve’ programme.

Twenty million pounds has been set aside to support High Needs capital proposals in conjunction with the DfE’s ‘safety valve’ intervention programme, for local authorities facing the highest percentage Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) deficits.

After a successful bid, the council will receive £7,530,904 in additional funding to develop a purpose-built special school extension on the former Middlehurst School site that will join the Orchard Community Trust.

This is in addition to the capital funding that the government has already provided which will be used to further extend the special education needs offer for young people in different parts of the city. This will mean that more children can be educated in the city, rather than having to travel long distances out of the city every day.

As part of the council’s ‘Room to Grow’ Children, Young People and Families’ Strategy 2020-24, the authority wants to ensure every young person has the chance to fulfil their potential, whatever their circumstances, including raising outcomes for children and young people with special education needs. A fresh Special Educational Needs Inclusion Strategy will be implemented this autumn and the council have already started making improvements on the offer to these young people and their families.

The funding is in addition to the extra £10 million of revenue funding that Stoke-on-Trent City Council is receiving to support children with special education needs.

Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for the economy and education at Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “Receiving this funding from the Department for Education will allow us to extend our special education needs offer. A new purpose-built special school extension close to Watermill School and part of the same Orchard Trust will allow us to directly support more children with special education needs.

“As a corporate parent, the children in our city are our number one priority and we are determined to improve our educational outcomes – we want all of our young people to be the best that they can be.”

Improving educational outcomes forms part of the city council’s Powering Up Stoke-on-Trent priorities. Powering Up Stoke-on-Trent is a prospectus to secure partnership and investment and aims to forge a partnership that crosses all relevant government departments and agencies to reenergise the city. Launched in March 2021, education and skills is priority three alongside transport, economic development and health and productivity.

Leader of the city council Abi Brown said: “Significant progress is being made against all of Stoke-on-Trent’s plans to make the city the true litmus test for Government’s levelling up ambitions. After launching the Powering Up Stoke-on-Trent prospectus, we swiftly published our Education Improvement Strategy for the city, showing our commitment to improving our educational outcomes.

“The city is now set to benefit from a fifth year of the Opportunity Area programme that is supporting improvements in maths, science and English learning, and progression for young people beyond school. The new Florence MacWilliams free school has been agreed to proceed to opening in Longton and options for a specialist digital free school are being submitted into wave 15 of the government’s free school programme when that round opens.

“In a fast-moving global economy, we have to ensure our children can gain the skills they need to access opportunity. That is why we are working hard to ensure that we have the right type and quality of provision in place across the city.”

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