A FORMER family centre will be demolished to make way for a new facility for children with special educational needs.

Approval has been given for the demolition of the former Stairfoot Family Centre, in order to create a new facility at Hunningley Primary School to accommodate up to 15 young children as part of meeting their special educational needs.

At its meeting held in November 2022, Barnsley Council cabinet members approved the objectives of the borough’s strategy for meeting the needs of children and young people with special educational needs, including a disability (SEND).

A key element of the SEND Strategy was a statutory evaluation of the sufficiency of education places and how the council and its partners would address the fundamental challenges being faced in meeting increasing demand for school places from children and young people with SEND, within the available financial resources.

The council-owned site previously operated as Stairfoot Family Centre which was closed following the Covid Pandemic. The 15 additional places will be created for children aged five to eight who have been diagnosed with SEND communication or interaction needs, Autism and social, emotional and mental health needs at Key Stages 1 and 2 of the curriculum.

This will enable the council to comply with its statutory responsibilities in ensuring pupils with SEND are accommodated in facilities which support access to an appropriate specialist curriculum, by the beginning of the 2024 autumn term.

Executive Director of Children’s Services, Carly Speechley, said: “Through investing in local mainstream and specialist provision and in maintaining an arrangement with a local provider, the new facility will enable the educational needs of this group of young children to be met closer to their home and families, making more effective use of available resources while helping secure better outcomes for pupils with SEND.

“Based on current need and consultations for school places, the development of these places will also ensure that these children and young people are not placed in high-cost special school settings, including out of the borough.”

The total cost for the project will be £452,798 and it will be funded from £4.765m High Needs Provision Capital Allocation Grant capital funding, mainly comprised of the 2023/24 Department for Education allocation to the council.

Steps will now be taken to inform parents and carers of the pupils who have been identified as the first cohort to access the Hunningley Specialist Provision, of the availability of placements and when the unit will be opened.