The Department for Education has announced that Bowman Academy has been approved to open in Shepshed. The new school, which is being set up by the Community Inclusive Trust (CIT) is due to open in September 2023.
Bowman Academy will be sited on the St Botolphs Primary school site (the primary school is due to be re-located to the adjacent Iveshead site in September 2022), and joins 36 other alternative provisions and special free schools announced to open nationally.
These will create up to 3,000 new school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), providing tailored support and specialist equipment.
Bowman Academy will be for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs and is one of a number of new special schools and provisions in mainstream schools being created across Leicestershire by the council. These are part of our broader plans which involve investing up to £30m to develop new provisions for children and young people with special educational needs in the county.
Peter Bell, chief executive officer of CIT, said: “We are delighted the DfE have announced our successful Free School bid in the WAVE 2 SEN/AP. The school is due to open in Shepshed in September 2023 and will meet the needs of 50 children with SEMH needs from across Leicestershire.
"This new school will work in close partnership with other Leicestershire schools and Leicestershire County Council, as well as its sister CIT School, Foxfields Academy in Blaby, which is due to open to pupils with SEMH this autumn.”
Deborah Taylor, Leicestershire County Council Cabinet member for children and families, said: “We are delighted that the Department for Education is supporting the building of this wonderful new school, and that the Community Inclusive Trust has been appointed to run the school when it opens in September 2023.
“It will be of great benefit to children and families here in Leicestershire and is part of our wider plan to ensure SEND provision is available to families in the county, as close to their homes as possible. We look forward to seeing the building develop and welcoming children to the new school.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson approved 33 school trusts to open and run 37 new schools, two of which will be solely for children who have been or are at risk of being excluded from mainstream education, to level up their educational outcomes and to keep them engaged in learning.
The remaining 35 will help drive up standards in special education, providing specialist support and teaching for pupils with complex needs such as autism, severe learning difficulties or mental health conditions.
The announcement builds on the success of the free school programme, which promotes innovation, with more than 500 already open across the country, including 44 special and 47 Alternative Provision (AP) free schools. These new schools will take advantage of the freedoms and opportunities provided by the free school system to ensure that children with special educational needs and in AP are receiving the tailored support they need to fulfil their potential.
Gavin Williamson said: “Now more than ever we need to make sure we are putting our most disadvantaged and vulnerable children first, including those with complex needs.
“We need to be more ambitious for these children, which is why we are delivering on this Government’s manifesto commitment to deliver more school places for children with complex Special Educational Needs. This will make a real difference, giving these young people the opportunity they deserve for tailored support in school that responds to their individual needs, making them confident learners and engaged students.
“At the same time, I also want to transform the experience of children who have been permanently excluded or are disengaged and at risk of being removed from the classroom. These 37 new schools, adding to the network of excellent free schools around the country, will help level up opportunities for every single child, from any backgrounds, so they can all receive a world-class education.”
Last month the Prime Minister set out a ten-year rebuilding programme for schools across England, aimed at driving opportunity and prosperity through improvements to the country’s education system. This will start in 2020-21 with the first 50 projects supported by over £1 billion in funding.
These 37 new schools add to the 44 special and 47 AP free schools already open and the 49 special and eight AP free schools approved in previous application rounds, which will open in the future. On completion, it takes the total number of special free schools to 128.
The new schools will be open to some of the most vulnerable children in the country – including those with Education, Health and Care Plans.