Proposed New ASC Special Free School West Surrey

Closes 17 Dec 2021

Opened 15 Nov 2021


Surrey County Council has identified the need to provide additional specialist school places for children and young people in the West of the County with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC). To address this, the Council is proposing that a new Special Free School should open providing up to 200 places from September 2024. Cabinet has approved a capital budget of approximately £24 million to achieve this.

To comply with section 6A of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (the ‘free school presumption’) the Council must, in the first instance, seek proposals to establish Free School. SCC are beginning this process by holding this initial consultation with the aim of collecting views to help decide how to proceed and to help formalise and finalise proposals. 

There are many steps to take before the proposed new school could open including further periods of consultation once a sponsor has been selected; however, the key milestones are as follows:

  • November 2021 – initial local authority consultation (this process)
  • January 2022 – full school specification published
  • March 2022 – proposals sought from prospective sponsors
  • July 2022 – sponsor confirmed
  • April 2023 – construction starts
  • September 2024 – school opens

In Surrey, numbers of school-age children with ASC named as a primary need increased by 43% between 2018/19 and 2021/22 (from 2,725 to 3,899).  The forecasts suggest that numbers will continue to grow over the next five years. The development of the proposed school is consequently part of a suite of proposals being developed by Surrey County Council in conjunction with the Department for Education (DfE)’s Free Schools programme to deliver a step change in the number of places for learners who have complex Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in local Special Schools and Specialist Centres.

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