Pupils across Cardiff are set to benefit from a wide-ranging expansion of special and additional learning needs education provision, with recommended proposals creating more than 270 additional spaces over the coming years.
A comprehensive consultation exercise into the special needs sector was carried out over the winter and Cardiff Council has now completed the statutory notice period for eight proposals. After receiving only two objections, each of the proposals have now been recommended for approval and the Council’s Cabinet will debate the issue at its meeting next Thursday (July 14).
At the core of the plan is the creation of more than 200 additional places at eight schools across the city, by establishing:
- A 20-place base for primary-aged children with complex learning needs (CLN) at Moorland Primary School (from September 2023)
- A 30-place base for learners with CLN at Willows High School (from September 2023), and
- A 30-place base at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf for learners with autism, alongside the existing base (from September 2023), and increasing
- The number of places for learners with autism from 20 to 45 at Llanishen High School (from September 2022)
- The number of pupils at Ty Gwyn Special School from 198 to 240 (from September 2022)
- The number of pupils at The Hollies Special School from 90 to 119 (from September 2022) and from 119 to 150 (September 2023)
- The number of pupils with CLN at Llanishen Fach Primary School from 20 to 30 (from September 2023), and
- The number of places for learners with autism at Pentrebane Primary School from 20 to 24 (from September 2022)
In addition, the Council is set to increase the number of places across the city for pupils with emotional health and wellbeing needs.
If progressed the plans will enhance the provision for both primary and secondary school pupils and include the closure of the outdated Court Special School premises in Llanishen. The school would transfer to new-build accommodation across two sites –Fairwater Primary School and St Mellons CiW Primary School in Llanrumney. Each would have space for 36 pupils – 72 in total, an increase of 30 on the current capacity.
The work would be completed by September 2025.
Also in the pipeline is the creation of two new 20-place specialist resource bases for emotional health and wellbeing at:
- Cardiff West Community High School, in Ely (from September 2022), and
- Eastern High School, in Rumney (from September 2023)
The council received no objections to these three schemes. Along with the eight special needs education proposals, this report will also be debated by the Cabinet at tonight’s meeting.
Cllr Sarah Merry, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, said: “This is potentially the most significant steps towards transforming the provision of special and additional learning needs education seen in Cardiff in recent years and it will dramatically improve the standard of facilities right across the city and increase the number of places available by more than 270.
“In March 2021, Cardiff had 2,265 children with special educational needs,” she added, “of which 1,116 were placed in specialist facilities in the city, with 48 places available at wellbeing and speech language centres and a further 90 at pupil referral units.
“These plans will go a long way to address a shortfall in our provision and will also help to spread the facilities right across Cardiff.
“In addition, at the new Court School premises the 21stCentury buildings will support a number of initiatives for pupils with high levels of emotional health and wellbeing need – like a therapy focus and early intervention opportunities.”
The need to increase provision in these areas reflects an increase in the numbers of pupils with special and additional learning needs – a trend identified before 2020 but which has been exacerbated by school closures and other measures introduced in the wake of the pandemic.