Plans for the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Capital Programme in Essex

This page seeks to inform students, parents, carers and the wider community about Essex County Council’s (ECC) current capital programme to increase the number of places available in special schools and to enhance provision for children attending some mainstream schools for those of statutory school age.

The Council is committed to meeting the needs of vulnerable residents. The Essex County Council Organisation Strategy states as a key priority:

• Help keep vulnerable children safer and enable them to fulfil their potential

A review of the number of children and young people with special needs and disabilities was conducted in 2015 together with the type of provision these children and young people require. This work identified a shortfall of places both immediately and in the future.

ECC was concerned that too many children and young people were placed in educational establishments a distance from their own communities. This involved learners in long journeys to school in some cases resulting in increased traffic congestion and stress on families. The Council was also concerned that some children were placed in residential settings in the private sector and sometimes out of the county as there was no appropriate provision nearby. Young people who spend a lot of time away from their communities find they have not put down roots or made long term associations which are helpful when they come to leave school and return home to begin their adult life.

The Council discussed the position with the Essex Special School Education Trust (ESSET) and together they put a strategy in place to ensure there would be provision in place to meet a wide range of needs in every quadrant of the county. The number of places and range of provision was determined that would enable ECC to meet the needs of children and young people up to 2025. This is therefore a long term strategy which requires significant capital investment.

The Council set out a capital programme of additional places in special schools and enhanced provision in mainstream schools which would meet both current and projected need. The Council approved capital investment to make this happen and the Department for Education (DfE) made a contribution also.

The DfE has made a grant of £9,758,297 to Essex County Council from the Specialist Provision Grant. In addition, the Council has already committed over £23m in capital with further investment planned.

The Special Provision Plan sets out the current capital programme for Essex.

The SEND capital programme is still developing and it is possible that further projects will be added to the programme at a later date.

Special Free Schools
In addition to the development set out in the capital programme, the Council has also supported and encouraged the development of four brand new special needs schools which are anticipated to open in 2021.

School Address Type of need Number of places Boarding
Chatten ASD with severe learning disability 70 0
Hawthorn Former St Peter’s College site at Fox Cres, Chelmsford ASD with severe learning disability 70 15
Fox Cres Former St Peter’s College site at Fox Cres, Chelmsford SEMH 64 10
Harlow Former Passmore School site SEMH 64 10

These schools will help to ensure that children with different needs will be able to access the type of provision they need without travelling too far from home.

Engagement Co-Design and Co- Production with Students, Parents, Carers and the wider Community
ECC has undertaken widespread consultation with parents on the design of the service to be offered. The number of parents consulted is around 22,000. This consultation process is part of the Council’s commitment to engagement with students and their families on the design of all aspects of the service.

Essex County Council has a Family Forum (Essex Family Forum) which is a more formal mechanism for engagement with families.

Individual schools have undertaken local engagement with their own community of families and the local residents.

Further Information
If you would like any further information about the Essex County Council special educational needs and disability capital programme please contact Ralph Holloway at