West Sussex County Council (WSCC) has identified the need to provide additional specialist school places for children and young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs (SEMH). To address this, the Council is proposing that two new Special Free Schools should open providing up to 260 places from September 2026. The Department for Education (DfE) is in the process of accepting applications for new Special Free Schools and the Council plans to submit two bids as part of this process.
The DfE is allowing each local authority in the country the option to submit a maximum of two bids for new Special Free Schools by the application deadline of midday on 21 October 2022. Under existing Government legislation all new schools must be Free Schools (Academies). In this case the schools will be designed and built by the DfE but there is an expectation that WSCC will provide suitable sites.
There are many steps to take before the proposed new schools could open including further periods of consultation once a sponsor has been approved by the Secretary of State for Education.
The key milestones are as follows:
- September 2022: Initial local authority consultation (this process)
- October 2022: Submission of full special free school applications to the DfE
- December 2022 / January 2023: Successful applicants announced by the DfE, and School Specifications published
- February 2023: Academy trusts (prospective sponsors) submit their applications; LA and DfE begins to assess them
- May 2023: Short-list interviews with successful academy trusts, LA and DfE
- May 2023 / June 2023: LAs submit recommendations to the Secretary of State for Education and Regional Schools Commissioner
- Summer 2023: DfE announce successful academy trusts, DfE project delivery and pre-opening activity starts
- 2026/2027: New special free schools open to first intake of pupils
In West Sussex, numbers of secondary school-age children with SEMH identified as a primary need has increased. The forecasts suggest that numbers will continue to grow over the next eight years.
Please note that this consultation will end on 7 October 2022 with an online event added for 28 September 2022, 6-7pm.
Why your views matter
Do you have a child with SEMH needs? We want to hear your views on our proposals to open two new schools for young people aged 11 to 19 with SEMH needs in West Sussex.
Do you work with young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs in West Sussex? We want to hear your views on our proposals to open two new schools for young people with SEMH needs in West Sussex.
If you would like to find out more, please register to join our online engagement event planned for:
Wednesday 28 September from 6pm to 7pm (Click here to join the meeting(External link))