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Brent school to knock down caretakers house to build new SEND classrooms as demand soars

The caretaker’s house at a North London school is set to be demolished to make way for two new classrooms for pupils with special educational needs (SEND). The facilities will provide space for 22 students to meet the growing need for places in the borough, with demand for Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans having risen by 14.8 per cent since 2020.

In 2020/21, Brent Council approved a programme to deliver 427 new SEND places, 168 of which would be achieved by providing additional support to children within mainstream schools – called Additional Resource Provision (ARP). Newman Catholic College on Harlesden Road, an all boys school for pupils aged 11 to 19, was one of ten schools that put itself forward for the scheme.

The number of children and young people in Brent that need EHC plans is predicted to more than double from 2,426 in 2020 to 4,932 in 2027, according to council figures. The growth in demand for places in the borough between 2020 and 2022 exceeded the national average.

The new classrooms, expected to be ready by September 2025, will provide support predominantly for pupils Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) issues. The focus on ASD is to reflect the increase in diagnoses and the number of children and young people found to have difficulties with speech, language and communication.

The redevelopment of the site will see the demolition of the two-storey caretaker’s house and the construction of a new two-storey building within the same footprint, alongside an additional playground. The ARP will be able to provide support to 22 existing students with ASD and SEMH, with no overall increase in either pupil or staff numbers.

Brent school to knock down caretakers house to build new SEND classrooms as demand soars Harrow Online
Newman Catholic College. Newman College was one of ten schools that signed up to the council\\\’s programme to increase SEND places in the borough. Image Credit: Brent Council. Permission to use with all LDRS partners

The soaring demand for special needs places has meant school funding is coming under increasing pressure. The council is looking to slow the growth through early intervention strategies and catch-up support but there has been ‘significant growth’ amongst primary school aged pupils.

According to the planning documents, Brent Council issued the highest number of EHC plans to children aged five to ten in 2020/21 and the local authority forecasts this to continue. The council claims it needs to increase both primary and secondary facilities in the borough so the pupils can make ‘better, more sustained progress’ within mainstream schools.

Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, Cllr Gwen Grahl, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “The Council has set aside over £44million to develop 427 additional specialist school places, including a new secondary special school, new Additional Resourced Provisions (ARP) in mainstream schools and a Post-16 Skills Resource Centre for young people with SEND, to meet rising demand and reduce the need for children to attend school outside Brent.”

She added: “Newman Catholic College is one of several schools that expressed interest in establishing an ARP at their school. The planning application was approved earlier this month and the building work will be complete next year, ready for pupils to make use of the facilities in time for the academic year starting in September 2025.

“Over 97 per cent of pupils attend schools in Brent that are rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted and we are committed to supporting young people to achieve the best start in life and receive the support they need when they need it.”