Plans to increase the number of special support centres in schools across West Sussex have been fully supported by the county council.
The centres could save the county council as much as £2.1m by 2022/23 by not having to send youngsters to expensive placements in the independent sector or bus them to out of county provision.
Aimed at children with mental health issues as well autism and speech and language problems, the centres would provide an additional 84 places in schools, one of which being Barnham Primary.
There are already 32 centres around the county, some of which would be expanded as part of the three-phase project.
Phase one was agreed in December 2018 and, rather than having to wait another two years to complete the work, Paul Wagstaff, director of education and skills told a meeting of the children and young people’s services select committee that the plan was to do phases two and three at the same time.
The idea received the wholehearted backing of the committee at a meeting on Wednesday.
Chairman David Barling (Con, Bramber Castle) said:
“We welcome this and strongly support the move to move phase 3 into phase 2 and bring this forward. We think it’s a very valuable service which is expanding.”
In March 2015, there were 3,423 children and young people in the county with Education Health and Care Plans. By June this year that number had risen to 5,440.
The final decision on the new centres will be taken by Nigel Jupp, cabinet member for education and skills in November.