The Department for Education (DfE) announced today that 39 local authority bids to commission a new special or alternative provision free school have been approved. The 39 new free schools will be the biggest number of special and AP schools approved in one wave, providing over 3,400 extra places for children.

The new free schools will cover the breadth of the country, including nine in the north, five in Yorkshire and the Humber and five in the Midlands, providing specialist provision for children with social, emotional and mental health needs, children on the autism spectrum and those with Complex Learning Difficulties. They join 76 open special and AP free schools and a further 66 approved but not yet open.

Luke Tryl, Director of New Schools Network, said:

“Every child should have access to a school that can support their needs. But too often it’s the parents and carers of the most vulnerable children, those with special needs or who have been excluded, that tell us that they struggle to get the right support in their area. 

"That’s why this announcement creating 3,400 more Special and AP places, through the free schools programme is fantastic news for children and communities across the country.  It will also help save local authorities money by creating new state places, rather than forcing them to rely on costly private provision.

"As ever, NSN will now provide free support and guidance to help those who want to set up a school through the approval process”

To find out more about NSN support for applicant groups, click here

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