Bid announced for new special school to serve Hambleton and Richmondshire

Former Northallerton school site on Grammar School Lane

North Yorkshire County Council is to submit a bid for a new special school to be included in the Government’s next Special Free School programme.

If successful, the council’s application to the Department for Education (DfE) would see an urgently needed specialist education centre created for families in Hambleton and Richmondshire.

The county council’s application was approved by the executive yesterday (Tuesday, September 20.)

The DfE is currently inviting local authorities to apply to join the next wave of Free School building before the application process closes on October 21. It is expected it will result in 60 schemes across the country being approved via a competitive application process.

North Yorkshire is in urgent need for more provision for young people with social, emotional and mental health needs and it is estimated an additional 350 specialist places will be needed in the next five years. The issue is particularly pressing in Hambleton and Richmondshire, where there are currently no specialist schools able to offer this form of education.

The county council is proposing to convert part of the former Northallerton school site on Grammar School Lane, after having explored other sites and buildings across the district and finding no other suitable options. It would cater for about 120 pupils aged from eight to 16-years-old.

Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, the county council’s executive member for education and skills, said: “There is increasing demand for specialist education for young people with Social Emotional and Mental Health needs. If North Yorkshire’s application to the Special Free School building programme is successful, it will provide families and young people in Hambleton and Richmondshire with much-needed specialist provision on their doorstep.”

Jane le Sage, assistant director for inclusion at North Yorkshire County Council said: “We are keen to submit a proposal with the Department for Education for the development of a new special school.

“Currently pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs in the Hambleton and Richmondshire district have to travel significant distances to access appropriate provision, placing an unnecessary stress on pupils and their families.”