Hartlepool wins government approval for creation of a new free school
Hartlepool is set to get a new school to boost places in the town for children and young people with special needs after winning government backing.
The Secretary of State for Education has approved Hartlepool Borough Council’s bid to establish a new special free school.
Hartlepool was one of only three successful bids across the region with the others being Northumberland and the Tees Valley.
It is part of government plans to create around 3,500 additional school places nationwide for children with special educational needs or those facing additional challenges in mainstream education through 37 new special free schools and two alternative provision free schools.
Free schools are funded by the Government and run by someone other than the local council.
Nevertheless, Hartlepool Borough Council sought approval for the new school and is part of its planning.
Councillor Brenda Harrison, chair of the council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “We are delighted to have secured this extra provision in Hartlepool.
“This new special school will mean that we will be able to meet the needs of more Hartlepool children and young people in town rather than them having to travel long distances for their education.
“We are in the very early stages of planning for this new special school in Hartlepool.
“Over the coming weeks and months we will be working with the Department for Education and consulting with all of our partners to firm up details.
“We will share these details as they emerge.”
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill said the town has a good track record for special needs education, but more funding is needed.
He said: “More and more parents are being told by schools that they no longer have the resources to support children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities, and it’s harder to access specialist help.
“The Free School concept is controversial, but the creation of a new facility in the town for children in need of specialist support, and to relieve the pressure on existing providers, is a significant step.”
The Department for Education said in a letter to Mr Hill it will soon be inviting applications from groups interested in opening and running the new school.
It stated: “We will be looking for applications that demonstrate a commitment to partnership working to create schools that will deliver what the local area and its families need, and ultimately provide an opportunity for the children that attend them to achieve better outcomes.
“The new school will help to meet the need for additional, specialist, high quality places in the area.”