A SERIES of changes have been proposed to increase special school provision across the conurbation.

BCP Council has launched a consultation on its plans to increase places offered by Linwood School and Winchelsea School, while reducing the places available at Somerford Primary School by more than 200.

The local authority says the changes are needed to allow it to meet its obligations in terms of school provision, specifically in terms of Special Educational Needs and Disability places.

A proposal document published by the council says: "The number of children and young people assessed as requiring a place at a specialist education provision in the BCP area has increased in recent years.

"Local provision to meet these needs is of high quality, but capacity has not been expanded sufficiently to meet this additional demand."

A summary of the proposals are:

  • Increase the number of places at Linwood School by up to 28 places.
  • Increase the number of places at Winchelsea School by up to 50 places.
  • Decrease the published admission number for Somerford Primary School from 60 to 30 places, accompanied by a reduction in capacity from 429 places to a minimum of 210 places.

If approved, the proposals for Linwood and Winchelsea would begin from September 2020. The changes at Somerford would be delivered from September 2021 and reach the overall desired reduction across all year groups by 2027.

The increase at Linwood would be achieved through changing the temporary expansion in a commercial property in Alma Road to a permanent expansion, providing 10 permanent additional places. The other 18 places would be created through an expansion of the existing Springwood campus in Andrews Close.

Meanwhile, the plans for Winchelsea feature making the satellite site at Old Town Infant School permanent and increasing its size from 12 to 24 places, as well as making the Canford Heath Junior School satellite offering permanent, with its existing 12 places staying the same. Expanding the age range for post-16 provision at the main school site in Guernsey Road would also be carried out, adding 14 places with the construction of a new building.

Bournemouth Echo: Somerford Primary School

The proposals state Somerford Primary School is in an area with a "fairly static" population of pre-school children, with "sufficient" capacity in other schools. It adds that the school has not filled its published admission number for a number of years. As of October 2019, there were 277 registered pupils at the school. Vacated space from the reduction in pupil numbers would be repurposed to SEND provision, operated by a local special school.

Councillor Sandra Moore, BCP Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “The significant change proposals are part of the children’s services programme in partnership with schools in the area to ensure sufficient provision of Special Educational Needs places to support the needs of local children and young people in BCP.

“The outcome of the consultation will be considered by children’s overview and scrutiny panel on July 28, for a cabinet decision on July 29.

“Anyone is welcome to respond to the consultation proposals with details about the proposals and how to respond included in the Statutory Notice.”