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Cornwall's new free school becomes a step closer

Cornwall’s new school for children with special educational needs will open in September 2023.

The special school will provide 65 places for children aged from 5 to 16, and become a centre of educational excellence for pupils who have a significant level of Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs.

In a statement released yesterday the Department for Education confirmed the Special Partnership Trust has been chosen to work with Cornwall Council to deliver this countywide resource, which will be based near Bodmin. 

Portfolio Holder for Children, Health and Well Being, Councillor Sally Hawken, said: “I welcome this announcement from the Government which will help us to move on to the next stage of making this new free school a reality.

“We successfully bid for the funding in 2019 and since then we have been working hard behind the scenes, engaging with residents, parents, education colleagues and planning officers.  We now look forward to working with the Special Partnership Trust to turn these plans into reality.”

Executive Director of the Special Partnership Trust, Guy Chappell, said: “The Trust has a track record of providing high quality educational provision and this is an exciting opportunity to extend the high-quality offer. The Trust has been working very hard to develop the strategy, the resources, and the capacity to develop and meet the needs of children, young people and families. 

“This announcement endorses the work of the Trust schools, staff and the wider community. The development of the Free School marks the next phase of the Trust’s development. Whilst the current period is very challenging, these are exciting times for the development of education in Cornwall.”

All pupils who attend the school will be placed by Cornwall Council and have education, health and care (EHC) plans. Council staff are already working closely with the Department for Education on the design for a smart, purpose-built new school building.

Sally added: “Cornwall is geographically challenging and families who need this special provision can often find themselves travelling long distances to get the right kind of support. This new building will enable us to fill a gap in our current services - which will be a huge benefit to children and their families in Cornwall.”