A JOINT bid which was submitted to the Department of Education for a new 200-place special school has been approved by the government.
Submitted by Barnsley Council and Sheffield City Council, the facility will be divided equally between the two local authorities with a 50 per cent of places going to both areas.
The school is a ‘key part’ of Barnsley Council’s strategy to ensure all children have access to high-quality education, closer to home instead of relying on out-of-borough placements.
The neighbouring authority confirmed they have set aside £600,000 of funding for abnormalities - and Barnsley Council is expected to match the funding.
Coun Trevor Cave, cabinet spokesperson for children’s services at Barnsley Council, said: “We made the joint bid to the Department for Education’s (DfE) Special Free School programme to help to address the need for more special provision.
“Approval is great news and a crucial step forward in helping build a brighter future for every Barnsley child by helping them reach their potential.
“We are ambitious for all our children and young people and the school will provide not only access to high-quality education but build confidence and independence so that children and young people can take full advantage of opportunities in the future and into adulthood.
“We have the plan to continue to increase a range of provision in Barnsley so that we can meet the needs of children and young people and ensure that they thrive in their education.”
The next stage will be to assign an academy, as is required by the process, and will be led by the DfE alongside both Barnsley and Sheffield councils.
Although a site has not been confirmed, it’s expected to be on the border between the two, making use of close links to the M1.
It is expected to be completed by 2027/28, costing between £12m and £15m.
Provision of 100 places to each local authority will make a significant difference to both areas’ sufficiency, the DfE said, after initial plans for a 60:40 split was ditched.
Key stages three and four - which refer to ages 11 to 16 - will be targeted due to growing demand for local places and the council’s quest to reduce out-of-borough placements.
Coun Dawn Dale, from Sheffield City Council, added: “It goes without saying that this is fantastic news and will make a huge difference for children and young people with special educational needs.
“We’ve been lobbying the government for some time to increase our places in South Yorkshire so this is a great result for Sheffield and Barnsley.
“We’re really excited about this - the school will help to provide much needed, high-quality and local special educational need places for so many across our region.
“We are looking forward to delivering this school in partnership.”