MORE than £400,000 will be provided to a Barnsley school this year to meet desperate need for SEND places in the borough, after its specialist facilities were lauded by council bosses.

Penistone Grammar School’s ‘Heart Space’ will welcome 20 new SEND pupils - children with special educational needs and disabilities - from September.

Senior councillors noted a need for more specialist post-16 provision at a recent cabinet meeting, approving a cash injection into the Barnsley Council-run SEND service.

The 20 places will be commissioned by the local authority, and will consist of 14 students accessing a mix of mainstream and specialist provision and six with moderate and more complex needs who will predominantly learn in the Heart Space - an inclusive bespoke setting for children with education, health and care plans (EHCPs).

A report issued to cabinet members estimated these new places to cost upwards of £230,000 - which, when combined with the school’s current cohort of eight SEND pupils, will see Penistone Grammar receive more than £400,000 from the council for the coming academic year.

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Heart Space head Katie Corson told the Chronicle the school expected to grow the number of pupils accessing its highly-rated facilities year-on-year - with the placement-led funding increasing to make this possible.

Katie said: “I have a leadership background in primary schools and secondary schools and saw this as a real opportunity to utilise that experience and revolutionise the way we meet SEND needs and bridge the gap between the transition of primary students to secondary.

“I am so very proud and excited for this next chapter and whilst it’s a huge responsibility, I know we will succeed at PGS due to the dedicated team of staff we have and the fantastic students we are surrounded by.

“The Heart Space was just an idea last year but due to the ongoing commitment from the team and students it is now a successful, wonderful and warm place to be.”

Paul Crook, Penistone Grammar principal, added: “I am so proud that PGS can further meet the needs of our local students who may have additional learning and/or emotional needs.

“The Heart Space provision is excellent and growing from strength to strength.

“Staff and students are brave, supportive of each other and show true resilience every single day.”

Service leaders recognised the early success of the Heart Space - which has seen the dedicated team grow from three members of staff to 11 specialist teachers, assistants, and support staff.

Penistone Grammar will also receive an estimated £300,000 to enable essential building works to take place.

The SEND category used to cover children aged four to 16 years old, but now includes an age range from birth to 25 following government reforms which were put in place in 2014.

There are about 5,000 children and young adults involved in the Barnsley Council-run SEND system, which works alongside primary, secondary and special schools both in and out of the borough.