UP to ten BCP schools may be interested in taking on more pupils with special education needs and disabilities.

Portfolio holder Nicola Greene says that of 34 who initially expressed an interest between 5 and 10 are continuing to progress the ideas.

“There is a very realistic prospect of more places being provided,” she told a meeting of the children’s services overview and scrutiny committee.

She said that some schools have been more advanced in their preparations than others and it was likely that the numbers involved would remain fluid until the schemes had been finalised.

“The project is very much live. We are moving forward with a dedicated team of officers with the schools and we will be reporting back as soon as we can.”

The idea is being considered in response to an inspection of SEND provision in the council area which has resulted in the department and the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group having to produce a Written Statement of Action to explain to the Department of Education and Ofsted how it will improve services.

The authority put aside £10m for capital improvements for its SEND provision, much of which has yet to be allocated.

“There has been a whole host of reasons, not least the inspection itself, why that has not come forward over the last financial year,” said Ms Greene, the cabinet member for council priorities and delivery.

“The council got in touch with all schools asking for expressions of interest, not building a new school but seeing what capacity there is within our whole school estate for innovative ideas which would allow mainstream schools to keep children in mainstream provision and we know that some need specialist accommodation, others might need to re-jig their campuses to provide something a bit different,” she said.

Neighbouring Dorset has dealt with its SEND shortfall in provision by spending more than £10million on the former St Mary’s School near Shaftesbury, although delays in building work and the registration process means the school, expected to be open by now, continues to face delays.

It has also invested in another special school at Bovington to help meet local needs.